SP Campground Review – Catalina State Park, Tucson, AZ
A lovely State Park campground surrounded by stunning mountains & lots of hiking trails just north of Tuscon, AZ.
- Site Quality = 3/5
Sites vary from very nice to very poor depending on which loop you end up in. A & B are lovely, but Ringtail is a dissapointment:
A-loop -> This loop has 48 sites all paved with nice “sittting areas” containing picnic table and fire-pit. Sites are spacious, decently flat and have a lovely natural layout and feel. Half the sites have 30Amp/water (sites on left-hand side of loop) while the other half are primitive/no hookups (sites on right-hand side of loop). All sites are nice here, but the most desirable IMHO are outer-facing back-ins.
B-loop -> This is the more “modern” loop and has 75 sites all paved with 50Amp/water and nice “sitting areas” containing picnic table and grill. They are laid-out in a grid-like fashion with equal spacing between each site. Not much privacy but good separation and decent size and levelness everywhere. The very nicest sites are outer-facing back-ins (B10-12, B45-48, B68-75) some of which have excellent (unobstructed) views and their own little trails directly into the mountains.
Ringtail Loop -> This really (honestly) shouldn’t be called a loop at all. This is simply the old overflow parking lot which was recently converted into a “loop” by placing poles marking “sites” around the lot. There is no separation, no sitting area and you’re basically just camping right next to your neighbor in the dirt with no hookups. It’s a poor excuse for a loop and I would (personally) be rather pissed off to have to pay $15/night to stay here. Unless there is no other choice I would stay away from this area.
NOTE/ There is also a separate equestrian camping area. This is just north of loop B and is a large open dirt parking area wih picnic tables, BBQ pits and 12 pens for horses.
- Facilities = 3.5/5
Once again great to so-so facilities depending on which loop you’re in. The B-loop and Ringtail loop both have ultra-new facilities with large (enormous) individual hot showers (separate bench area, detachable shower-heads, temp control) and clean flush toilets. These are wonderful! On the other hand the A-loop has an older facility which sadly doesn’t mach up. Toilets here are clean and sizeable, but the showers have horrible spray head and button timing (in women’s the shower spray was so strong it was painful to stand underneath it). Several on-site dump stations (one near park entrance, one in B-loop).
- Location = 5/5
This is a fabulous location. You are right next to the awesome Catalina Mountain Range which dominates the view and provides endless hiking/biking trails. You are also just north of Tucson with super-easy access to shopping (Walmart is across the street with Trader Joe’s/Sprouts/Fry’s just a few miles down the road) and all the sightseeing that Tucson has to offer.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Another fabulous pooch park. Lots of space to hang out in camp plus dog-friendly trails all around (only one trail, Romero Canyon is banned to dogs). There is also a creek in Canyon Loop Trail where doggies can splash in the water (such a treat in the desert). Another bonus is that the campground is grassy so no need to worry about cactus on the paws.
Overall Rating = 4.1
BONUS ALERT = Camp will full views of the gorgeous Catalina Mountains!
Summary: We’d heard alot about Catalina State Park before we came to Tucson and I have to agree with all the positive reviews. This is a lovely State Park set beautifully right at the base of the Catalina Mountains. The camping loops are in a grassy valley with Mesquite trees and excellent views of the range. Sites in A & B loops are all quite nice with paved driveways, good separation and decent “sitting areas” although the very nicest sites are the outer back-ins some of which have their own little trails into the hills. There is a mix of either 50amp/water (in B-loop) or 30Amp/water & primitive (in A-loop). The biggest negative to the campground is the Ringtail loop. This is the old overflow which they recently “converted” into a reservable loop, but it is really just a dirt parking lot with poles yet it is still charged the same price as the developed (non hookup) sites in A-loop. If you stay at Catalina I’d advise avoiding Ringtail and booking in either A or B-loops. Outside of the loops, the facilities are excellent and there are many wonderful miles of hiking/biking trails from easy to strenuous. Plus you’re within easy access of Tucson and all there is to see and do there. Then again, you could easily pass all day here just sitting around in camp and looking at the mountains (we certainly did!). Park does get very popular in winter so definitely book ahead if you want to stay here. A lovely spot and one we’d most certainly come back to.
Extra Info: Good Verizon signal (3-4 bars on both 3G & 4G). ~140 sites of which ~75 have 50Amp/water, ~24 have 30Amp/water and the remainder are nonhook-up all reservable on-line. Sites cost $25/night for electric/water, $15/night for primitive. There is NO overflow camping. Several on-site dump stations (by front entrance and in B loop).