The 27-mile road (or something like that; depends on what you choose as the end points) up Mount Lemmon has another, fancier designation these days, the Sky Island Scenic Byway. The concept is this: each elevation has its own habitat, isolated from surrounding ones and rising as high as almost 9000 feet above sea level, more than a mile above the desert floor where Tucson is located.
Sagauros at Babad Do'ag Vista mark a typical Sonoran Desert habitat.
|From Mount Lemmon Highway|
First stop is Babad Do'ag, which is Tohono O'odham for Frog Mountain. I've photographed this place before, breaking in my first Canon digital in 2005 with some sunset shots, and later for at least two Round Robin topics. It's only 2.6 miles miles up from the beginning of the byway, which makes it rather handy. It features a good stand of giant saguaros, the huge, iconic cactus native to the Sonoran Desert. Here, too, you can look down at the valley below, toward a part of the city that looks remarkably green.
Next stop, just before the fee station, which was closed, is the Molina Canyon Overlook. This is almost a trailhead, with a more extensive network of improved paths, some of them paved, than last time I was here. Here we start to leave the saguaros behind and move into the grassland that comes in at this elevation.
My intrepid canine explorers.
Oh, did I mention that I brought the dogs along?
A little farther on is Seven Cataracts Vista. This is the wrong time of year to see much flowing water, but I think there's a little bit in the distance there.
I also managed to photograph this mildly cheeky rock wren.
John was positively jealous when I told him I'd made a 2-hour drive partway up the mountains; he reckons I should be more productive around the house while I'm unemployed, not larking about. But sometimes I need to get away from the house and the daily routine. For a truly restorative rut-breaker, nothing beats a drive into the Catalina Mountains, where there is more natural beauty than can be captured in a thousand photo shoots.
EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part two
EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part three
and from April 2005: