Temperatures topping 90 degrees in Tucson might hint at summer — but the Catalina Mountains north of the city aren’t quite ready to give up on winter and spring.
Snow still clings to slopes high in the range. Streams surge down some canyons. And wildflowers are blooming brilliantly in the Catalinas’ lower elevations.
It’s mostly a matter of altitude. The Catalinas rise to 9,157 feet — well over a vertical mile above Tucson — and sometimes hold winter snows until the start of spring.
Visitors at Mount Lemmon Ski Valley high in the range found slopes still coated with snow this week, but with some barren patches here and there.
Hikers along the Aspen Draw Trail near Ski Valley were greeted with snowy slopes above the path and a stream flowing in the bottom of a canyon.
Lower in the range, gold poppies, globemallow, brittlebush and other wildflowers were showing vibrant spring blooms at sites including the Babad Do’ag overlook area — between mile markers 2 and 3 along the Catalina Highway northeast of Tucson.
This week’s uncommonly warm weather will put a serious dent in the remaining snowpack, but wildflowers are likely to continuing blooming in the coming weeks.