CATALINA STATE PARK
Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons and streams invites camping, picnicking and bird watching - more than 150 species of birds call the park home. The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails which wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet. The park is located within minutes of the Tucson metropolitan area.
Park facilities include a campground, picnic tables, grills, trails, an equestrian center, a group use area for day or overnight use (available by reservation), restrooms, showers, and a gift shop. All restroom and shower facilities are accessible. The park also offers an equestrian center which provides a staging area for trail riders with ample trailer parking.
This scenic desert park also offers equestrian trails and an equestrian center provides a staging area for trail riders with plenty of trailer parking. Bring along your curiosity and your sense of adventure as you take in the beautiful mountain backdrop, desert wildflowers, cacti and wildlife that call this area home.
Catalina State Park is located within Coronado National Forest, and is managed by Arizona State Parks in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.
A variety of desert wildlife inhabit the park, including over 170 species of birds. Mammals of interest include deer, coyote, javelina, bobcat, and jackrabbit. Most desert animals are nocturnal, so early morning and late evening viewing are best. Any of the park trails offer good opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.
Little is known about the Canada del Oro region and the area where Catalina State Park is located for the periods of Spanish and Mexican control over southern Arizona. The lack of historical documentation in this area may have been because of the fact that most of the activity in the Tucson Basin at that time centered around the mission of San Xavier del Bac. There was a small detachment of Spanish soldiers stationed at the mission and village of adobes a few miles to the north known as Tucson. Most of the population was concentrated in these centers rather than dispersed, because of the continual threat of attack by the Apaches. Exploring and exploiting the rich mining, ranching and farming potential of the Tucson area was a risky endeavor. In 1853, the Gadsden purchase was signed which formalized the acquisition of southern Arizona by the United States. During the years following the purchase, United States army troops were sent to the Territory to control Apache threats to the increasing numbers of travelers, prospectors and settlers in the area. On of the posts established during this period was Camp Grant located 40 miles northeast of Tucson along the San Pedro River. The route from Tucson to the Camp paralleled the Canada del Oro Wash where it passed between the Tortolita and Catalina Mountains. This route became an important for movement of the troops in spite of the attacks by the Apaches along the Canada del Oro Wash.The most successful enterprise in the general area of the Park was ranching. The earliest known rancher within the Canada del Oro region was Francisco Romero who was born in Tucson between 1810 and 1831, the grandson of a Spanish soldier who had arrived in Tucson in the 1770s. Although little is known of his childhood, he is mentioned as establishing a ranch of 160 acres on the west side of the Catalina Mountains in 1844 near the Canada del Oro. Romero evidentially was a successful rancher, since he acquired additional pieces of property including 320 acres of farmland along the Santa Cruz River west of Flowing Wells and land on Main Street in the downtown Tucson business district.Francisco and his wife, Victoria, had three children, one of whom became a rancher. His name was Fabian, born in 1864, and he is credited as the founder of Rancho Romero. His ranch is reported to have been 4800 acres. According to a map of Pima County drawn up in 1873, the Romero Ranch buildings were shown as located in section 4 that is within the Park boundary. A capped well and a concrete base for a water storage tank are the only remains that were found at that location. Fabian and his wife, Benardina had five children but it is not known if any of the children took ownership of the ranch before it passed out of family ownership. Romero Pass and Romero Canyon were named after the family.Another rancher to follow the Romero family to the Canada del Oro region was George Pusch, a young German immigrant and his partner, John Zellweger. They bought a large ranch in 1874 that was later named the Steam Pump Ranch due to the installation of a steam pump to ensure a predictable water supply. Pusch died in 1921 and the cattle ranch passed out of the family?s possession.The history of the Park land is uncertain from the 1920s until the 1940s when J.E. McAdams purchased 4100 acres that he called Rancho Romero. His property is believed to contain parcels that had been owned by the Romero and Sutherland families. The McAdams family owned the land until 1971 when it was sold to Ratliff, Miller and Muhr Investments, Inc., who developed the plan to convert the ranch into a self-contained community. This plan was given the Pima County Planning and Zoning with the request to rezone the land.
The Visitor Center/Ranger Station is located at the park entrance and is open from 8 am - 5 pm daily. Entrance and camping permits are issued here. Information is available about the park and local vicinity. The visitor center features a small gift shop. Some of the items offered are postcards, maps, books, field guides, drinking water, snacks, sunscreen, hats and tee-shirts. The shop is open from 8 am - 5 pm daily.
Overnight camping is available in 120 sites, 95 with electric and water hookups and 25 without hookups. Each campsite has a picnic table and BBQ grill. Roads and parking slips are paved. Campgrounds have modern flush restrooms with hot showers. RV dump stations are available in the park. No limit on RV length. Stay limit is 14 nights.
Campgrounds are open all year. Sites are first-come, first-served. No reservations.
Group: Camping Sites
The park offers two group areas that can be reserved for overnight camping. There is a minimum number of 20 people required to reserve a group area. The maximum number for each area is 200 people. Each area features a 20X40 shade ramada, 20 picnic tables, two group BBQ grills, and a fire ring (bring your own wood). The two group areas share a modern flush restroom facility that includes hot showers.
Electric RV Sites: 95 RV campsites with electric and water hookups. Both 30 amp and 50 amp service available at each site.
Non-Electric RV Sites: 25 sites without electric and water hookups for RV's or tenters. Sites are first-come, first-served. No reservations.