Our journey to Catalina State Park took us through downtown Phoenix and on past the Angels spring training stadium in Tempe as we headed south to Catalina State Park in Tucson.
The state park is located in Oro Valley which is in the northern part of Tucson at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Mt Lemmon is the tallest mountain in the Santa Catalina’s with an elevation of 9,160 feet. There was a bit of snow on the mountains while we were there.
Campground: Catalina State Park
Location: Oro Valley, Arizona (Tucson area)
Site: A8 (pull thru)
Services: W/E (50 Amp)
Comments: A beautiful campground with fantastic hiking trails, large, level sites, and close proximity to shopping and restaurants but still very quiet 24/7. We love it here.
The campground has 2 loops, A and B, all with rather large sites with decent privacy. Some sites are pull thru and others are back-ins. Sites have power and water but can be rented without electricity for a lower price.
The National Audobon Society has designated Catalina State Park as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) which sets forth an internationally agreed upon set of criteria for the conservation of bird populations. We saw a variety of birds every day.
One of the best parts of the park is the variety of hiking trails offering different degrees of difficulty and challenges. Many of the trails are easy to intermediate with a bit of elevation gain (minimal) and the ability to go distances of 8 or 9 miles one way. One of the trails leads up the mountain and intersects with the Mt Lemmon trail for those wanting a longer, much more difficult hike with an elevation gain of approximately 7,000 feet. This trail is not for the faint of heart. The trail leading to the Romero Pools was closed while were there due to the wildfires/floods.
The Bighorn Wildfire started in the Santa Catalina mountains in early June 2020 from a lightning strike and burned over 119,000 acres before being put out around the end of July 2020. It started on Bighorn Mountain not far from the state park hence the name. Several parts of the park were burned. Most of the burn areas we saw were along the Birding trail and Sutherland Trail. Some trails here and there leading into the Coronado National Forest were also closed due to the wildfires and floods. The 50 Year Trail showed no sign of wildfire.
And, of course, Arizona never fails in providing us some great sunsets every evening along with some crazy cloud formations.
After a week it was time to head home. We took the long way home via Florence and Apace Junction which gave us some great views and a very relaxing drive (as opposed to driving through downtown Phoenix).
We enjoy Catalina and love the hiking there and will probably return again one of these days!!