TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The road to Mount Lemmon opened to the public Saturday after being closed for more than six weeks due to the Bighorn Fire that destroyed nearly 120,000 acres of land.
"We thought there was going to be a lot more damage on the way up but we were just able to see the damage on the back which was really sad," said Tucson resident Elyse Weber.
The flames never touched any of the homes or businesses on Mount Lemmon.
"There was definitely some moments where I was like, well that's it," said Nick Avram, the Manager at Sawmill Run Restaurant."We are pretty much done but seeing how well they did and how the village was protected."
Alexander Ford, a manager at the Cookie Cabin, shared a similar message.
"We just want to thank the firefighters that were up here that saved the businesses, that saved the homes and up here working on the roads that allowed us to open so soon," Ford said. "Without those guys, we wouldn't be here."
He said reopening the road couldn't have happened at a better time.
"We had kept all of our employees on and we were getting ready to start furloughing people because they kept telling us it was going to be November," he said. "The work crews who came in to put the guard rails up, came in and did it incredibly fast and did a great job."
Catalina Highway was able to reopen once crews completed all road repairs. Now Mount Lemmon is buzzing with visitors once again.
"In the middle of summer when you can get 25 to 30 degrees cooler, this is an excellent location to come to and I think people have missed it," said Tucson resident Lee Giermann.
National Forest land including hiking trails and campgrounds remain closed.