March 15, 2015
I have readily acknowledged on other entries that I am not the biggest fan of brown desert landscapes. This trip up Mount Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest may not have completely changed that, but it did show me that even in an area that you think only contains desert, surprises await.
This trip was made possible by my needing to be in Tucson for an industry conference. In order to fly most economically, my work friend and I flew into Phoenix early the morning that the conference was to begin (with a 7PM networking hour). This allowed me to also get my nature on a bit as I always try to do on any trip.
We enjoyed the scenery of our off-highway saunter down to Tucson, stopping part way to explore Casa Grande National Monument, as I had the year before. That was a pretty neat experience for both of us, and the park video provided a lot more context to what we only had a short time to see.
We completed our drive to Tucson with plenty of time to spare, and after consulting Google, found that the Sky Island Scenic Byway was close by. From the quick description I read, I know we would get to climb up in elevation quite a bit on the drive, but I did not relate that to varying ecosystems as much as I should have. My friend and I were both awed by the various ecosystems such a short, 27.2 mile drive could deliver us to.
The drive begins in the low desert lowlands that feature saguaro cacti and winds it way through 5 life zones, including the welcome green of trees such as juniper, Douglas fir and ponderosa pines. Being a lover of all things green (except Michigan State!), this unexpected surprise energized me. While we did not have time to stop and explore, the village of Summerhaven would have offered plenty of diversion.
We stopped here and there, but mostly had to keep on the move so we would be back in time for our conference. Of course, Samsung Galaxy in had, I was sure to get at least a few decent pictures. The views at Windy Point Vista were especially impressive. As always, click on any to enlarge.