By D.R. WILLIAMS
It’s that time of year again: cold mornings, pumpkin spice lattes and tight yoga pants. If you look in the right spots, leaves are also changing color.
Yellows, browns and reds are mixed in around town but the best colors are atop Mount Lemmon at around 9,000 feet.
On the drive up Catalina Highway, you go in a short time from chollas and saguaros to pines and aspens. The majority of the trees are a deep evergreen, but clusters of fall colors satisfy the eyes.
You’re more likely to see a doe with its fawn than a couple of stray cats. The cool mountain breeze rushes by and fills your lungs with a crisp freshness the city can’t offer.
Though we may have 90-degree temps in the valley, the mountaintop air assures us that winter is coming.
It’s even harder to breathe up there. Some would say it’s because the air is thinner, but I like to think it’s all the sick views.
With a plethora of parking pull-offs, you can’t miss the shot if you take a camera.
Before the visitor center, red-colored leaves have the most contrasting colors.
Ski Valley and Summerhaven have the most groups of yellow and orange, making the 30 miles to Tucson seem more like 300.
Both locations have you covered if you’re looking for food to go with the views. Try the Iron Door Restaurant at Ski Valley or my personal favorites, the Cookie Cabin and the fudge from the General Store in Summerhaven.
The cool temperature helps keep the fudge from melting in the car, so there’s still plenty of time for a little walkabout.
The romantic views are perfect for wooing someone new or keeping the flame going, and it’s a date that won’t break the bank.
The ski lift is still open and hasn’t yet switched to winter prices, so there is still time to take a ride or just roll around in the leaves.
One of the hardest things about going up is deciding when to come down. The drive doesn’t seem as long during the descent but it’s more dreadful after a long day of adventuring.
Snacking on the freshly purchased fudge while driving tastes great, and it helps keep the eyes from getting heavy.
Tucson has the reputation of having a small window for autumn weather. We have a tendency to jump straight from summer to winter, so the chance to see a gradual transition is rarely available.
Luckily, we have a piece of paradise looking down on us from the Catalinas.