The largest of several hill ranges surrounding Tucson is the Santa Catalina Mountains which reach a height of over nine thousand feet at its highest point which is Mount Lemmon. The Coronado National Forest is where the highest points of the mountains can be found. The forest extends around Saguaro National Park southwest toward the Rincon Mountains. There are only a few trails available to access the hillside with a portion designed as Pusch Ridge which is a wilderness area.
There is a fee of five dollars each for day use at the Santa Catalina Mountains when using picnic areas, roadside parking or hiking. There is no fee charged for Ski Center parking, Summerhaven or stopping briefly at roadside overlooks. There is not a charge for visitors on bicycles, horseback or those traveling by foot. There is a fee of ten dollars each night for campgrounds at Coronado National Forest. There are a number of hotels in Tucson that are close to the mountains.
Santa Catalina Mountains, Mount Lemmon gets an annual snow fall of one hundred and eight inches. Eusebio Franscisco Kino, an Italian priest, named the area after St. Catherine during 1697. The mountains are a portion of the Santa Catalina Ranger District and considered to be a rather prominent range. The original name of the mountains was shown on an 1875 German map and other maps that dated back all the way to 1864. An 1890 map had the same name; they were Santa Catalina on a map that dated back to 1895.
The range officially became the Santa Catalina Mountains by 1902 which is the same year that Santa Catalina Forest Reserve was established by General Land Office. The reserve is over 155,000 acres, the name later changed to the Santa Catalina National Forest. The name was changed to Santa Catalina National Forest somewhere between the years of 1890 and 1902; even though the name of the mountain range has changed several times every name the range has had referred to St. Catherine.
During the 1850's people traveled to the Santa Catalina Mountains searching for copper, gold and silver and by the later part of the 1880's southern Arizona residents wanted the mountain range protected. Forest Reserve Act of 1891 is what removed the mountains from public domain when the United States Congress allowed the designation of specific lands in the country for this purpose. In 1905 the National Forest Service was formed and the name officially changed to Santa Catalina National Forest. The Santa Rita and Dragoon National Forest were combined during July of 1908 to make the area known as Coranodo National Forest.
Visitors to the Santa Catalina Mountains in Mount Lemmon, Arizona are asked to leave the area as they find it and clean up after themselves. The mountain range is a place for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and is a great place to visit when in Arizona. Additional details can be obtained by contacting Arizona's park service.
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