The Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest has temporarily closed and locked gates on seasonal roads and day-use sites in the upper elevations of Mt. Lemmon due to weather-related unsafe driving conditions. The main road leading up the mountain, the Catalina Highway, will remain open but may close periodically due to weather-related issues.
Seasonal road and day-use site closures occur each year. In recent years the Coronado delayed closures until snow accumulated. Roads and day use sites affected by winter weather will be closed annually on the same date, December 15, and reopen on March 1, unless weather conditions render them unsafe before or after those dates. Forecasts of an approaching winter storm this weekend could bring conditions leading to earlier gate closures.
The seasonal closures are primarily for public safety but also aid district personnel in reducing road maintenance arising from damage to forest roads during winter. Freezing and thawing of the forest road surfaces this time of year can make them more prone to damage from vehicles, which then results in poor road conditions in the spring and summer when the demand for their use is highest. The roads remain open to hikers, cross country skiers, bicyclists and other non-motorized users.
Roads and day use sites affected by the seasonal closure are: Lower, Middle, and Upper Control roads, Marshall Gulch Road, Lower and Upper Bear Wallow roads, Bigelow Road, Incinerator Ridge Road, Organization Ridge Road, the road into General Hitchcock and the Lemmon Rock Road to the top of Mt Lemmon above Ski Valley. The roads into Rose and Spencer canyon campgrounds were closed at an earlier date when the recreation areas were closed for the season.
Public safety and road maintenance contribute to the need for seasonal road and day use site closures. Hazardous road conditions including snow and ice make travel difficult. Often, people in vehicles become stranded, resulting in emergency responses by Forest Service staff, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, and towing companies. Our goal is to reduce this impact to people by closing seasonal roads and sites. Lower elevation recreation sites will be open for public use, including Molino Basin Campground, Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area, and Peppersauce Campground.
For more information please contact Sarah Corning at (520) 749-7720.