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Mount Lemmon sees smaller crowds for Memorial Day in light of travel records

Lower turnout allows visitors space to hike and pay respect to our fallen soldiers
Posted at 5:58 PM, May 27, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — While a record-breaking 2.9 million travelers were screened at U.S. airports this past Friday, many Tucsonans opted for a more serene Memorial Day experience at Mount Lemmon.

Despite fewer visitors compared to previous years, the mountain still hosted numerous families enjoying picnics, hikes, and sky gazing.

Pete Krauss, a dedicated volunteer at Mount Lemmon, noted the unexpectedly sparse turnout. “It’s pretty quiet,” Krauss said. “I expected big crowds but there’s parking places all over the place.”

Krauss attributed the lower numbers to the relatively mild temperatures in Tucson this season. He added, “It hasn’t hit a hundred in Tucson yet, so I guess they’re waiting for that.”

Among those who chose the peaceful retreat was Pedro Valenzuela, who brought his telescope to share views of the sky to fellow visitors. Valenzuela emphasized the significance of the day, stating, “We have to stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us, for they made the real sacrifices.”

Neda Nazarabad, a behavioral analyst, also found solace in nature with her family. “I think it’s a necessity for human beings to be in nature,” she shared, highlighting the restorative benefits of the great outdoors.

Krauss reflected on the day’s importance, saying, “We don’t have any memorials up here exactly,” Krauss said. “But we can certainly think about it and be happy with the freedoms that not everybody has.”

While Mount Lemmon provided a tranquil setting to honor Memorial Day, the U.S. Forest Service issued a high fire risk warning. Visitors were advised to ensure campfires are fully extinguished and to carry extra water to prevent any potential fires.

Joel Foster is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9 who previously worked as an English teacher in both Boston and the Tucson area. Joel has experience working with web, print and video in the tech, finance, nonprofit and the public sectors. In his off-time, you might catch Joel taking part in Tucson's local comedy scene. Share your story ideas with Joel at, or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.