Blog post

Snow Day Tips for Mount Lemmon, AZ

February 1, 2021

Any Tucsonan will tell you that the biggest highlight of the winter season is when a snow storm hits Mount Lemmon! Today, 35 inches of snow were recorded at the base of the Mt. Lemmon Ski Resort– which means the perfect adventure for a snow day! Snow days are not to be missed, so plan a day trip this weekend.

Please follow all local and business regulations. Face coverings are required at businesses, including: the restaurants, ski resort and general store.

9 Tips for a Successful Snow Day at Mount Lemmon

Included in this post are my nine tips for a successful snow day. I felt the blog post would be helpful since I personally drove up to the mountain on Sunday. During our drive up, chains and four-wheel drive vehicles were not required. However, the smaller streets to my family’s cabin were too icy for us. Instead, we stayed on the main roads.

Whether you’re looking to build a snowman, ski and snowboard, take photos, or support a local restaurant, below are my nine tips for a successful snow day at Mount Lemmon:

1. Call the Road Condition Hotline

Before driving up, call the Pima County Sheriff’s Department’s Road Condition Hotline for the latest updates, at 520-547-7510! This number will list if chains and four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles are required. Their Twitter profile also will post when the road closes to the public, with the exception of employees and residents. This is due to reached capacity and parking availability. If you have a cabin, you can still go up as long as you bring a utility bill to show your proof of residency.

2. Drive Safely

Despite the fact the roads may be open to all vehicles, you should still practice caution while driving on the mountain. Be on the lookout for ice patches and rocks that may have fallen from the heavy snowfall. Additionally, avoid driving on smaller streets that haven’t been plowed if you do not have chains or 4WD. This weekend, I saw a truck slide and slip as the driver attempted to drive up a neighborhood street–do not do this.

3. Get an Early Start

Summerhaven isn’t filled with an unlimited amount of parking, so it is common for the traffic to be controlled at the base once capacity is reached. On Saturday, the capacity was reached before 7:00am. On Sunday, I believe it was much later in the day. I went up at 8:00am and saw no traffic or line at the base. But on my way down, around 2:30pm, it looked like they had stopped letting a regular flow of cars to the top.

4. Check the Ski/Snowboard Conditions

Mt. Lemmon Ski Resort is anticipating that they will most-likely be open this weekend for snowboarding and skiing activities. Face coverings and social distancing is required. Lift ticket sales are only sold at the resort, in person and not online. Call 520-576-1400 for the latest updates.

To reserve ski equipment or ski lessons, call 520-576-1321 once you arrive to the resort. Equipment and lessons are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and cannot be reserved online.

NOTE: If you’re planning to ski or snowboard during the week, the resort is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Lift Ticket Cost (All Day)

  • Adults (13 and up): $60
  • Seniors: $50
  • Military: $50
  • Children: $30

Lift Ticket Cost (Half-Day, after 12:30pm)

  • Adults (13 and up): $55
  • Seniors: $45
  • Military: $45
  • Children: $25

Equipment Rentals

  • Adult/Child–Skis, Boots, Poles: $35/$30
  • Skis: $20
  • Snowboard and Boots: $40 ($200 deposit required)
  • Snowboard Boots: $25 ($100 deposit required)
  • Helmet/Poles: $7.50

5. Plan for Longer Waits at Restaurants

Expect longer delays at the restaurants due to limited capacity. There are three different restaurants to visit: Iron Door, Sawmill Run Restaurant and the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin. The fudge is also a must-have from the Mt. Lemmon General Store. Face masks are required.

6. Take Your Garbage

Please clean up and take your garbage with you down the mountain. Do not walk inside of a business or restaurant just to give them the garbage bag from your day trip. They are responsible for only taking care of the garbage in their restaurants.

7. Pack Snacks and Plenty of Water

Walking around and playing in the snow can take a lot of energy! So make sure you pack some snacks and plenty of water to stay replenished. On our trip up, I brought healthy snacks likes carrots, celery and peanut butter, peanut butter crackers, etc. We were planning to eat at one of the restaurants but had to get back to Tucson since my friend had work that evening.

8. Bring a Change of Clothes

If you’re planning to play or walk around in the snow, you will definitely want to bring a change of clothes. Or in the very least, a change of socks and shoes. Stay warm!

9. Tucson Tradition

Finally– as a Tucson tradition, don’t forget to throw some snow on your car before driving back down, so that everyone knows that you experienced Mount Lemmon!

Have a safe and happy day trip, and don’t forget to wear your mask and practice social distancing. Follow me on Instagram, @happilypinkblog, for all of my Mount Lemmon adventures. I plan to share my most of my mountain content this week.


  • Jenni Zimmerman

    February 1, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Just a friendly note that it is actually illegal to put snow on your car and drive down the mt, the deputies find it a hazard because it flies up to the car behind you. I have seen cars pulled over and having to remove the snow.

    Thanks for the article,

    1. Natalie Moe

      February 2, 2021 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Jenni! Thank you for your comment and for letting me know. I had never heard of this being an issue, so I called the PCSD right now and asked if it was illegal. They said it is not illegal to put snow in the bed of your truck or to place snow on the front of your windshield. I will let people know to not place excessive amounts of snow on their car. Thank you for looking out for our community!

  • Rachel Willis

    February 2, 2021 at 8:01 am

    How did I not know about the Tucson tradition?!?! Totally doing it next time I go!!! Great tips, thanks!

    1. Natalie Moe

      February 2, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Rachel! Yes!! My family and I always did this. When you’re up there, you may notice some cars off to the side throwing some snow on their windshield as a badge of honor hehe. And of course don’t forget to grab fudge and cookies on your way down! I’m going back up to collect content for a food post.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prev Post Next Post