On our way to the Santa Catalinas for a visit with friends in Tucson.
The entrance to the state park is in Oro Valley off of Highway 77. There are a variety of stores and restaurants across the street from the entrance so there is no lack of amenities near by.
Catalina State Park has one campground with 120 campsites all with electric and water hookups. A view of the campground and the surrounding mountains can be seen from the hiking trail.
Campground: Catalina State Park
Location: Oro Valley, Arizona (Tucson area)
Site: B64 (pull thru)
Services: W/E (50 Amp)
Comments: A beautiful campground with great hiking trails and large level sites. It is basically right in the city with plenty of amenities close by but yet you feel like you are in the wilderness.
Our time at the campground included some nice days and some cloudy, rainy days.
Catalina State Park had a large wildfire in 2020 called the Bighorn Fire. After an area has a fire it can lead to a bigger risk of flooding and mud flow and yes, Catalina State Park is very susceptible to this. Specifically, a wash area between the entrance and the campground has flooded in recent months, including mud and sand flow, and has trapped campers in the campground. The state park predicted this might happen again during our visit. The rangers warned us that due to the forecasted rains in the local mountains we could become trapped in the campground until the entrance could be cleared and emphasized that we needed to get on the side of the road we wanted to be on sooner rather than later! We tried to get a site at other campgrounds and RV parks in the area and being March in Arizona then nothing was available. What to do? We had friends flying into Tucson and this was our only chance to visit with them. We could leave the RV in the campground and head to a hotel or we could wait out the storm and see what happens. After much deliberation we decided to wait it out and lucky for us, after a night of lots of rain, the next morning the road was a bit flooded but it was still open, passable, and no mud! YAY! We ended up having a delightful visit with friends that we had not seen since before the pandemic and it all worked out fine. But beware if you are visiting the park and listen to the rangers.
Below shows the road with the mud/sand that had been previously moved away from over the road. They said the road had over 5 feet of mud and sand and the reason it wasn’t passable, even with a 4WD, was due to the mud and sand and not the water.
The state park has some great hiking trails even after the 2020 wildfires burned through the area and even with the recent floods. And yes there were a few wildflowers in bloom here and there which just adds to the color of the usual brown desert.
We had a few visitors in our campsite. The lovely Vermilion Flycatcher was constantly flying around. They are such a vibrant color of red and fun to watch as they dive to the ground to get insects.
We survived our visit in Catalina and luckily weren’t trapped like many others in the past few months. Yes, the rain is good to help with the water supply but on the other hand it can cause a few problems!