Every time you cross a desert or climb a mountain you swear that is the most beautiful desert you have crossed or the most beautiful mountain you have ever climbed. I am continually awestruck by the beauty of our country.
Before heading to our destination in Southern California there is one more mountain to climb — Mount Lemmon, elevation 8,000 feet. The 27 mile Sky Island Scenic Byway that takes you to the top is a true work of art. Work on the road began in 1933 and completed in 1950. U.S. Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock proposed using prison labor to build the new road from Tucson to the top of Mt. Lemmon and President Herbert Hoover approved and signed an order establishing a prison camp along the roadway. Up to 300 prisoners and staff lived at the prison camp. (The majority of laborers were individuals incarcerated for nonviolent crimes.)
Just as nature is resilient in its reforestation process after a fire, so are the people. In the summer of 2003 the Aspen Fire raged for 27 days burning over 85,000 acres including the summit community of Summerhaven. Today the lands are recovering, the wildlife is beginning to return and Summerhaven is implementing its redevelopment plan.
Mount Lemmon is magnificent and it is a great place to hike, camp, bike, or go for a drive.
END OF THE DAY AND END OF THE ROAD TO SAN MARCOS