Four Tucson Weekend Getaways

by Summit Hut Friday, April 19th 2019

Beat the heat and escape the crowds for an ideal weekend at some of our favorite campgrounds in the greater Tucson area. We’ve hiked it, biked it, and loved every second of it, so get outside and see for yourselves! Whether you want to spend the night in a convenient campground or far away from the sounds of the city, these four Tucson camping experiences will give you the weekend escape you’ve been looking for.

Locations

Catalina State Park

A quiet place to listen to nature right on the edge of Tucson. Take a break from city life by staying at one of 120 campsites, with electric and water hookups. The park rests at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains with 5,500 acres for hiking, camping and more.

  • Location: Base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, northern Tucson.
  • Fee: $5 non-refundable reservation fee for each reserved site and a $15 per night fee for second vehicles at a campsite.
  • # of Units: 120
  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.
  • Reservable: Yes, link: https://azstateparks.com/reserve/catalina/camping/.
  • Stay Limit: 14 consecutive nights.

How to Get There:

Head north on AZ-77 N/N Oracle Road past Oro Valley 6.2 miles. Take a right at Catalina State Park at 11570 N. Oracle Rd.

Extras & Insights:

Hiking Trails: There are eight trails at the park, varying in length and difficulty, but all with amazing views. Leashed dogs are welcome on all trails. https://azstateparks.com/catalina/things-to-do/trails


Mount Lemmon


Mt. Lemmon

If you want to beat the heat and get out of the city, head to Mount Lemmon. It averages 30 degrees cooler than Tucson and is well within driving distance. Mount Lemmon hosts a multitude of outdoor options, from skiing to camping and climbing. There is something for everyone.

  • Location: Coronado National Forest, northeast of Tucson.
  • Fee: There are a number of free and paid campsites available.
  • # of Units: 200+.
  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.
  • Reservable: Dependent upon campground.
  • Stay Limit: Dependent upon campground

How to Get There:

Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. There are a number of campgrounds all the way up the mountain.

Extras & Insights:

This is a four-season recreational area. Spring and summer, go hike/climb/bike/camp and in the winter, snowshoe/ski/snowboard. See below for the full list of campgrounds available.

  • General Hitchcock Campground
  • Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
  • Molino Basin Campground
  • Palisades Ranger Residence Cabin
  • Palisades Visitor Center
  • Peppersauce Campground
  • Rose Canyon Campground
  • Spencer Canyon Campground

Tucson Mountain Park


Tucson Mountains

With approximately 20,000 acres of public land access and 62 miles of non-motorized shared use trails, Tucson Mountain Park is a haven for all things outdoors. While hiking and mountain biking, you will have no shortage of breathtaking views and terrain to enjoy.

  • Location: Directly west of Tucson.
  • Fee: $10 per nights for tents and $20 for trailers and RVs.
  • # of Units: One main campground Gilbert Ray Campground, 130 units.
  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.
  • Reservable: No.
  • Stay Limit: 7 days.

How to Get There:

Speedway Boulevard west of I-10. At Camino de Oeste, Speedway Boulevard turns into Gates Pass Road. Follow Gates Pass Road across Gates Pass (not recommended for trailers or RVs more than 24 feet) to the “T” intersection with Kinney Road. Turn right on Kinney Road. Travel approximately 0.6 miles and then turn left on McCain Loop. The campground entrance is on the left.

Extras & Insights:

With this much land to roam, there is no shortage of areas to explore. Be sure to grab the TMP hiking map and chat with a Summit Hut staffer to find the best-of-the-best hiking trails. There is also an Environmental Education and Desert Discovery Center. It’s a great option to check out if the heat gets to be too much.


Picacho Peak State Park

Right off the interstate, Picacho Peak State Park is hard to miss. It has a trail that takes you to the top of the 1,500-foot peak and is home to a unique geological significance, outstanding and varied desert growth, and historical importance.

  • Location: North of Tucson.
  • Fee: $30 per night (Oct–May) $25 per night (June–Sept.) Group areas: $15 per night.
  • # of Units: 85 sites.
  • Season: Year-round.
  • Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.
  • Reservable: Yes, use this link to reserve.
  • Stay Limit: 14 nights.

How to Get There:

Stay on I-10 W and it’s an hour’s drive or 44 miles.

Extras & Insights:

From skydiving to the ever-popular Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch nearby, Picacho Peak State Park is a wealth of outdoor activities. Be sure to check out Biosphere 2 and the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which is home to the National Park Service ruins of the ancient dwelling of the Hohokam tribes.


Sit Up & Enjoy the Mountain Sunrise


Nemo

Whether you’re chopping your toothbrush in half or carrying a glampsite on your back, NEMO’s camping collection covers the range.

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Need more information?

Stop by Summit Hut at our Oro Valley or Speedway locations. We have a full trip planning area, and love to help people find their perfect adventure.

Activities | Gear | Hiking Report

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The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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