Catalina State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Surrounded by jaw-dropping views of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Catalina State Park is a nature lover’s dream, featuring over 5,500 acres of towering canyons, rolling foothills, and glistening streams. Located just outside Tuscon, Arizona, this state park is a must for your next RV vacation. You’ll have endless opportunities for outdoor recreation in a unique desert landscape. From hiking and biking to birding and horseback riding, Catalina State Park offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures.

The mountain views of Catalina State Park are breathtaking, rising to up to 3,000 feet. You will love soaking in the desert air while being surrounded by unique plant life, including mesquite trees, desert willow, prickly pear, and other cacti. There are over 150 species of birds in the park and tons of native wildlife from mountain lions to bighorn sheep. History buffs will love the chance to set their eyes on a prehistoric Hohokam village site old on the Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail.

Once you park your camper at Catalina State Park you can venture out on one of the many nature trails dotted around the park. For birdwatchers, there is a dedicated Birding Trail where you can spot fascinating native birds. The 50-Year Trail is a popular route for horseback riding and biking, while the Sutherland Trail is a more difficult 10.5-mile trek, where you can hike through majestic desert terrain and canyons. Catalina State Park is a perfect RV destination no matter what time of year you visit, with sunny summer days and warm winters. Due to the cooler temperatures, the peak season is October through May.

RV Rentals in Catalina State Park

Transportation in Catalina State Park

Driving

Catalina State Park is easy to access by RV or car, since it is located just 10 miles from Tucson, AZ, off of State Route 77. Local roads will take you anywhere you want to go within the park, from the Ranger Station and Gift Shop to the campground and trailheads. There are no driving restrictions for RVs or trailers within the park, so you’ll be able to get around easily, whether you’re in your rig or another vehicle.

Parking

There are several options for parking RVs and trailers, with four lots throughout the park. You’ll be able to find spots at the Ranger Station, Equestrian Center, near the Bobcat Amphitheater, and near the nature trail heads. Of course, you can also park at the campground if you are staying overnight.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Catalina State Park

Campsites in Catalina State Park

Reservations camping

Tucson / Lazydays KOA

With both the Saguaro National Park and the Sabino Canyon only 15 miles away, Tucson, AZ is the center of Arizona's desert recreation areas. Discover an oasis at the Tucson/Lazydays KOA where rigs up to 65' can smoothly ease into deluxe patio sites complete with full hookups, up to 50-amp service, furniture and a southwest style fireplace. Propane and firewood are available for purchase on-site. Stay connected with free Wi-Fi and cable TV and rejuvenated at the hot tub/sauna. At the campground, feel free to rent a bike, play some mini golf, swim at the pool or grab a bite at the snack bar. Bring your pup, because pets are welcome!

Catalina State Park Campground

Catalina State Park features 120 pet-friendly campsites available for tents and RVs year-round. The primary campsites are divided between Campground A and B. These campsites provide access to electricity and water. Amenities at this campground include hot showers, restrooms, and a dump station and each site has a paved pad, picnic table, and grill. You’ll be close to nature trails and a playground. Generator use is permitted from 8:00am to 8:00pm and there are no length limits for RVs or trailers. You can stay for up to 14 days at a time.

First-come first-served

Equestrian Camping

If you are bringing your horses with you on your camper trip to Catalina State Park, you can stay for the day or overnight at the Equestrian Area. There are no specified sites, but you can stay in your RV in the designated lot. There are 16 corrals available for horses or stock animals. This facility provides water, restrooms, hitching posts, mounting steps, picnic tables, grills, and fire pits. This is a first-come, first-served facility, with no reservations accepted.

Alternate camping

Private Campgrounds

Since Catalina State Park is close to the city, you have the option to park your RV at a private campground or RV Park in the nearby Tucson area. You will be able to enjoy a range of modern amenities of your choosing, from wireless internet to swimming pools. Tucson is a large metropolitan area so you’ll have easy access to gas stations, grocery stores, and dining options.

Seasonal activities in Catalina State Park

In-Season

Biking

Catalina State Park is a great place to bring your bike and head out onto the desert trail! Once you park your RV you can cycle down the Bridle Trail, which is a flat 1-mile trek that is great for a short bike ride. Another great biking trail is the 2.3-mile Canyon Loop Trail, where you can coast along views of the foothills with terrain that varies from flat to inclined.

Hiking

You’ll want to pack good hiking boots since there are eight hiking trails to choose from at Catalina State Park that vary in difficulty. If you are looking for an easy hike or stroll, check out the Nature Trail. This is a one-mile loop through desert vegetation, with interpretive signs that explain the natural history of the beautiful scenery all around you. For a more difficult hike, trek out on the 7.2-mile Romero Canyon Trail, which will take you up a majestic mountain route. Most of the hiking trails are pet-friendly.

Wildlife Viewing

Catalina State Park is teeming with wildlife, so you’ll want to bring your binoculars during your RV vacation here. There are all sorts of desert creatures to spot including coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, and deer. The best time of day to see these creatures is early in the morning or late in the evening.

Guided Hikes

Guided hikes and ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year. You won’t want to miss these during your trip to Catalina State Park. Take a guided hike through the foothills and learn about the amazing wildlife and geology of the park. You might also be able to join a birding walk where you can learn about the wide variety of birds that call this state park home.

Horseback Riding

If you are an avid equestrian, you will love the chance to hit the trail at Catalina State Park. This state park has an equestrian area that will fulfill all your needs if you are bringing your horses in your trailer. There are 16 corrals, hitching posts, and water available on-site. You can go horseback riding on 5 of the trails throughout the park and soak in the amazing desert scenery all around you.

Off-Season

Picnicking

If you want to spend a relaxing afternoon in the park, park your camper at the picnic area. You can dine in the desert with views of canyons, streams, and cacti all around you. Picnic tables and grills are available for use so you can cook some delicious grub in an incredible setting.

Visitor Center

If you want to learn more about the history of the park, park your rig at the Visitor Center and check out the exhibits inside. There are displays you can walk through at the Visitor Center that will teach you all about the natural history, geology, and cultural history of the park. Plus, you can ask the rangers any questions you may have about the park or the creatures that make their homes here.

Junior Ranger Program

If you’re bringing the kids on your RV adventure, they’ll have loads of the fun participating in the Junior Ranger Program. You can download the Junior Ranger Activity Sheet from the park’s website or inquire about the booklet at the Visitor Center or Ranger Station. There are thrilling activities that will help your kids explore the park and learn about its natural history. Once you complete the activity kit, you can turn it into the rangers and receive a Junior Ranger button.

Prehistoric Ruins

Catalina State Park features a rare historical site just waiting to be explored during your RV road trip. You’ll start by heading out on the .75-mile Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail until you reach the remains of a Hohokam village. These ruins date all the way back to 500 A.D., which you can learn about from the interpretive signs that describe the site’s heritage and archaeological activity.

Birding

Catalina State Park is home to more than 170 unique species of birds, so you want to make sure you pack your binoculars in your RV. Some of the many birds you can see include sage thrashers, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, hawks, eagles, and sparrows. Hummingbirds are easy to spot by the Visitor Center since there are bird feeders located nearby. Other hotspots for birding are the waterways within the park at the Canada del Oro Wash and the Sutherland Wash. Make sure you don’t miss a trek along the Birding Trail, which is teeming with opportunities to spot all kinds of birds.

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