• Menu

11 Awesome Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations

Catalina State Park Camping Spots

At the foot of the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains is Catalina State Park. Nearly 5,000 saguaros and other desert flora and animals can be seen in the park. Catalina State Park Boondocking, camping, picnics, and bird watching are all welcome in the park’s 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams, which is home to more than 150 different bird species. At elevations close to 3,000 feet, the park offers miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and bike paths that snake through the park and into the Coronado National Forest. The Tucson urban area can be reached quickly from the park. This beautiful desert park also has horseback riding paths, and a large staging area with trailer parking is provided by the equestrian center. Bring your sense of adventure and curiosity along as you take in the stunning mountain backdrop, desert fauna, wildflowers, and cacti.

11 Free Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations

1. Catalina State Park Boondocking – Bigelow Road – Santa Catalina Mountains

Bigelow Rd.
Mount Lemmon, Arizona
GPS: 32.413776, -110.720987
Elevation: 8383′

Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 1 miles from a paved road. There are 16-29 campsites at this location. Free Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations all along Bigelow Rd. No facilities but bathroom just down the road a piece if you want to jump in your car.

2. Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations – Incinerator Ridge

865 Mount Lemmon Highway
Mount Lemmon, Arizona
GPS: 32.409167, -110.701334
Elevation: 8140′

Forest Service

Incinerator Ridge is open May – Nov. This spot was excellent. There are a number of spots all with different attributes. I went to the top and chose to hike in about 150m from the car park. The sunrise was absolutely amazing. I believe most of the spots have some kind of view but if you go to the top you get a great overlook view.

3. Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Cracker Barrel

8400 N Cracker Barrel Rd
Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.35972, -111.09272
Elevation: 2159′

Retail Store

The road in is Paved. There are 6-15 Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. Parking lot of the Cracker Barrel restaurant/shop.

4. Catalina State Park Boondocking – West Tangerine RD and I-10 Marana, AZ

Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.42496, -111.15914
Elevation: 2041′

Dirt Lot

The road in is Gravel. The maximum RV length at West Tangerine RD and I-10 Marana, AZ is unlimited.Just off I-10. Get off Tangerine RD exit and head towards Ora Valley. On the right you see a stretch of dirt off the road to park. I stayed multiple nights no problems. Can be a bit loud sometimes with traffic. March 2022; Drove by it the other day. It is still here, and there were lots of semis parked there and 2 RVs.

5. Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations – Park Link BLM

Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.612345, -111.209754
Elevation: 2310′

Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 1 miles from a paved road. Park Link BLM is open Year ’round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. We found this Catalina State Park camping spot after the local BLM office recommended this area for our sized camper. It is very secluded, but easy to access and has a decent Verizon signal, which we used for calls and with a Jetpack. We stayed here 5 nights, had no trouble and most days saw no one. On a busy weekend day, we saw two ATVS and a car.

6. Catalina State Park Camping Spots – E Redington Rd – Santa Catalina Mountains

Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.261879, -110.649788
Elevation: 3766′

Forest Service (USDA) (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt. There are 16-29 Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations at this location and the maximum RV length is 32′. You may stay 14 Nights at E Redington Rd – Santa Catalina Mountains. View of Tucson from atop the Santa Catalina mountains. Lots of 4×4 traffic and gun shots. There are tons of 4×4 trails on this road. There is also a shooting range further up the road. Excellent Sprint Evdo Internet connection. The view of Tucson at night is to die for. Stayed for 3 days. There are more sites all along the road. No facilities. This is a mountain road, but it is maintained. Its seems to be three lanes wide in many places, but always at least two lanes. Small trailers shouldn’t be an issue. I saw lots of folks hauling their toys up the mountain on trailers.

Amenities:

Shooting Range

7. Catalina State Park Boondocking – East Freeman Rd

Florence, Arizona
GPS: 32.77985, -111.1108
Elevation: 2812′

Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 3.3 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 Catalina State Park campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. Nice open area above a wash. There are not a lot of spots before or after this for anything bigger than a truck camper or a popup trailer. This spot has a lot of room.

8. Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations – Old Ajo Highway Campground

Tucson Estates, Arizona
GPS: 32.1614, -111.1038
Elevation: 2507′

Bureau of Land Management (Official)

There is LOTS of space to park, access is easy – we are almost 60′ long and were able to navigate in with ease, the land is level and the area is clean. We felt totally safe here and did not see any long term residents. The downsides are that the site is located between two relatively busy roads so there is some traffic noise – but surprisingly it was not too loud. A great place for Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations. I was here for 3 days in March ’22. Very quite and safe.

9. Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Snyder Hill BLM

Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.156941, -111.116493
Elevation: 2471′

Bureau of Land Managment (Unofficial)

The road in is Paved. Snyder Hill BLM is open All Year. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is Any. You may stay 14 days at Snyder Hill BLM. Free dry camping just off Highway 86 and S San Joaquin Rd. This is a little patch of BLM in the middle of major development. Nicer than you might expect. Desert trees and a picturesque rocky hillside.

10. Catalina State Park Boondocking – Iron wood Forest

Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.451147, -111.375582

Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Paved. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Just off a many times patched, paved road. Desert, but you can pitch a tent or park a rig. No facilities. Quiet at night, on national Forest I believe. Stayed here one night, the morning had a bit of traffic coming in and out, some bicycle riders. Do watch out for scorpions and other critters, we saw one the size of my hand! Shake out your tent and boots! 6,000lb bridge weight restriction on Silverbell Rd aprox 10 miles from Avra Valley Rd.

11. Catalina State Park Boondocking – Ironwood Forest National Monument

Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.44358, -111.37506
Elevation: 2005′

Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 10 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. Don’t let the name make you avoid it. This land is BLM so you can camp here. Google Maps Location: https://goo.gl/maps/gK4u9dhJU5E2 Use El Tiro road to get from I10 to here. Don’t use Silverbell road, there is a 6000 lb limit bridge on that road and any sized rig simply is to heavy. The area is very nice, please continue to keep it nice. I would caution when raining, it does look like the dirt gets soft when wet. The Pump Station road is smooth, but watch your speed, there are a couple surprise dips along the way.

Amenities:

Shooting Range

3 Paid and Permit Camping Sites for Catalina State Park

Individual Permit (single person) is $15, Family Permit (2 adults and children under 18) is $20, Small-Group Permit (up to 19 people) is $15.
Grants access to State Trust land for certain types of recreational activities including bicycling, bird watching, GPS-based recreational activities (geocaching), hiking, horseback riding, off-highway vehicle (OHV) usage, photography, picnicking, and sightseeing. Recreational Permits purchased online will be charged an additional $1 convenience fee.
Arizona State Land Department Online Recreational Permit Portal

1. Paid and Permit Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Golder Ranch Road

Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.482084, -110.886479
Elevation: 3261′

On Arizona Land Trust Grazing Lands. Follow road towards foothills. Cross cattle guard and bear left about 1/2 mile to cattle pen. We camped in this area for a 3-4 nights. This is located between two residential areas and is on Trust Land so be sure to have your permit! The local sheriff stopped by and was happy to hear/see we had ours and we had a pleasant chat with him. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.
Arizona State Land Department Online Recreational Permit Portal

2. Paid and Permit Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Tangerine Rd. State Trust Land

Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.43399, -111.123063
Elevation: 2277′

State Trust Land (Official)

The road in is Dirt and ½ mile miles from a paved road. Tangerine Rd. State Trust Land is open All year. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 days at Tangerine Rd. State Trust Land. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.
Arizona State Land Department Online Recreational Permit Portal

3. Paid and Permit Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Tucson Wash Rd

Oracle, Arizona
GPS: 32.678746, -110.725228
Elevation: 3520′

State trust (Unofficial)

The road in is Gravel. Tucson Wash Rd is open year round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Tucson Wash Rd. A nice flat spot with a lot of space. Tucson Wash is easily driveable all the way to Mammoth and has some very cool narrows. Any van or TC should be fine. No internet in the canyon. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.
Arizona State Land Department Online Recreational Permit Portal

3 Paid Camping Sites For Catalina State Park

1. Paid Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Peppersauce Campground

Mount Lemmon Road
Oracle, Arizona
GPS: 32.53833, -110.716393
Elevation: 4607′

Forest Service (USDA) (Official)

$10/night – first come, first served campground. The road in is Gravel. Peppersauce Campground is open Year-round. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 22′. You may stay 14 Nights at Peppersauce Campground. Compact campers should be fine. Facilities include one 2-hole vault restroom, seven (7) tables, a group barbecue grill, five (5) ground fire rings, three (3) lantern posts, three (3) benches and one parking lot that will hold up to ten (10) vehicles.

Amenities:

BBQ Grills
Drinking Water
Fire Ring
Picnic Tables
Restrooms

2. Paid Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Gordon Hirabayashi Campground

GPS: 32.3391, -110.7177
Elevation: 4843′

Forest Service

Fee is $10 per night, or $5 per night with a National Parks Senior Pass. Most sites are pull-through for easy RV set-up. Big oaks mix with mesquite, catclaw and manzanita here in the elevations just above Molino Canyon. The Arizona Trail — which extends from Mexico to Utah — passes through this campground. A corral is available for riding and pack stock. It has a fire ring, a bear box, and a picnic table at each campsite.

3. Paid Catalina State Park Camping Spots – Molino Basin

Arizona Trail
Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.337118, -110.693169
Elevation: 4354′

Forest Service

Single site: $20. $10 with Golden Age/Access or Interagency Senior/Access pass. Molino Basin is open Nov-Apr. The maximum RV length at Molino Basin is 22 feet. Accessible, Tent camping, Camping trailer, Picnic tables, Toilets, Parking. No hookups. No drinking water is available. Pets must be leashed at all times. Mountain bike access is generally east of the campground and not allowed in Wilderness. 14-day stay limit per year.

Amenities:

Restrooms

Catalina State Park Boondocking Locations

History Of Catalina State Park

All 34 archeological sites are located inside the 5,493 acres of Catalina State Park, which was created and inaugurated in 1983 following a challenging process of land trades, leases, purchases of land, and initial facility construction. The closest city is Tucson, Arizona, which is about 10 miles south.

When it comes to the spans of Spanish and Mexican rule over southern Arizona, little is known about the Canada del Oro region and the area where Catalina State Park is situated. Because San Xavier del Bac’s mission was the center of most activity in the Tucson Basin at the time, there may not have been much historical documentation in this region. A small group of Spanish soldiers were stationed at Tucson, an adobe hamlet and mission a few miles to the north. Because the Apaches were always posing a threat of attack, the majority of the people was concentrated in these areas as opposed to being spread. It was risky to explore and take advantage of the region’s enormous mining, ranching, and farming possibilities.

Catalina State Park is home to an enormous variety of desert vegetation, fauna, and ancient sites. More than 150 different species of birds make the park their home, making it a fantastic place for camping, picnics, and bird watching. Trail riders can stage at an equestrian center, and there is also plenty of space for parking trailers. Miles of paths for horseback riding, bird watching, and hiking, as well as an educational trail that leads to a Hohokam town from prehistoric times, weave through the park and the nearby Coronado National Forest.

Passes

Arizona offers a non-commercial standard pass for weekday use at all parks, including weekends at most parks and the non-commercial premium pass which includes weekend and holiday access to the parks. You can find additional Arizona Annual State Park Pass informataion and order online by visiting the ARIZONA ANNUAL STATE PARK PASS
Standard Annual Pass
The Standard Annual Pass allows non-commercial day-use access at Arizona State Parks for pass holder and up to three additional adults in the same vehicle, except for daily entry to Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, Buckskin Mountain and River Island State Parks on weekends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and state holidays from April 1st to October 31st.       $75.00 plus a $7.00 handling fee
Arizona State Parks Premium Annual Pass
An Arizona State Parks Premium Annual Pass provides non-commercial day-use access at all Arizona State Parks for the pass holder, and up to three additional adults in the same vehicle. Choose this pass if you want to include access to Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, Buckskin Mountain and River Island State Parks on weekends and State holidays from April 1st to October 31st.       $200.00 plus a $7.00 handling fee

Catalina State Park Boondocking

Things to Do and See Around Catalina State Park

Seven Falls Hiking Trail

One of the most well-liked walks in Tucson is Seven Falls. And it’s clear why. In addition to being the best trail in Tucson, it has seven waterfalls, stunning scenery, and is a reasonably simple hike. The Sabino Canyon Recreation Center is where you may locate the Bear Canyon Trail, which leads to Seven Falls. One of my all-time favorite spots to trek in Tucson is Sabino Canyon. There are so many different routes to choose from, and they all provide amazing and varied experiences.

  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation: 917 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Fee: $5/day or $20/year pass
  • Amenities: Flush toilets at Sabino Canyon Recreation Center

When you arrive at the trailhead, there are restrooms (flush toilets, yes!) and a water filling station. Utilize this station for refills! Although the trail is not extremely challenging, it is long and much of it is in the sun, so you will become thirsty. Along the walk, you will experience the stunning Sonoran Desert and be surrounded by saguaros that tower above you.

The falls are in the canyon, so you might not notice them until you’re close by. After making the descent, you’ll see lots of people enjoying the falls. Cliff jumping, swimming, tanning, picnicking, and just being in nature are popular activities. When should you hike? When the falls are fueled by snowmelt or strong rains in late winter or early spring.
Something You Should Know: To get to the trailhead, you can either walk or use a tram (does not take you all the way to the falls). Bring cash if you use the tram! Located inside the gift shop is an ATM (with ATM fees). The tram journey up to the trailhead only costs $4. I absolutely appreciate that they offer this choice. By taking the tram, the hike is reduced to only 4.6 kilometers round trip. If you’re short on time or don’t want to commit to an 8-mile hike, this is really practical. If you do decide to take the tram, be sure to be aware of the last tram’s arrival time at the visitor center. If not, you have to hike back!

Really Neat Parks and Recreation Areas Nearby

Honey Bee Canyon Park:

Discover Honey Bee Canyon Park’s treasures as you go back in time. Petroglyphs and other cultural treasures can be found when exploring the Sonoran Desert. Three miles of hiking paths, a historic rock dam, and rental ramadas are all part of the park. A ramada is a temporary or permanent shelter with a roof but no walls, or one that is only partially enclosed, in the southwestern United States.

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area:

Southern Arizona locals and visitors can walk, hike, or bike in the well-liked Sabino Canyon recreation area. There are substantial waterfalls along Sabino Creek that have small bridges over them just minutes from the desert. A variety of creatures can be found in the canyon as wildlife.

Biosphere 2:

Earth science attraction offering tours. It was created using diverse sections based on several biological biomes to examine the network of interactions among life systems. As a new form of laboratory for the study of the global ecology, in addition to the many biomes and human housing, there was an agricultural area and work space to examine how people, farming, technology, and the rest of nature interact. Its goal was to conduct a two-year closure experiment with an eight-person crew.

Marshall Gulch Picnic Area:

The Marshall Gulch Picnic Area is situated on the top slopes of Mount Lemmon in the forest south of Summerhaven. Large granitic rock outcrops are crisscrossed with dikes of much whiter pegmatite, which appear virtually white against the background of a forest floor covered in pine needles. As it starts its descent into the upper parts of Sabino Canyon, one of the most stunning canyons in the Southwest, Sabino Creek meanders through the picnic area.

Thimble Peak:

North of Tucson, Arizona, in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Thimble Peak is a well-known landmark. On the southern edge of the range, Thimble Peak rises from the foothills. Bear Canyon lies to the east of it, and Sabino Canyon is to the west. The summit is located in the Coronado National Forest’s Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The summit itself has no routes leading up to it. The final ascent needs technical climbing abilities of a class 3 to 5.

Camping & RV Parks

There are 48 campsites at Catalina State Park, 24 with RV hookups for electricity and water. Restrooms are Handicapped Accessible with Showers that are also Handicapped Accessible. A dump stations is also available in the park.

Parks & Monuments

Saguaro National Park West: 12 miles west of Tucson.
Saguaro National Park East: 13 miles east of Tucson.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument: 80 miles north.
Tumacacori National Historic Park: 66 miles south.
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park: 62 miles south.
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park: 91 miles southeast.
Picacho Peak State Park: 30 miles north.
Tucson Mountain County Park: 10 miles west.

Recreation & Wilderness Areas

Buenos Aries National Wildlife Refuge: 60 miles southwest.
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area: 25 miles southeast.
Coronado National Forest: Surrounds the park.



Other Posts About Arizona Boondocking and Hiking

18 Free Saguaro National Park Boondocking Spots
16 Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Free Camping and Boondocking Spots
17 Free Canyon de Chelly National Monument Boondocking Spots
18 Great Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Boondocking Locations
Top 10 Chiricahua National Monument Boondocking Locations
15 Hard Saguaro National Park Hiking Areas
Grand Canyon National Park 20 Amazing Places
6 Great Monument Valley AZ Boondocking Spots
12 Free Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Boondocking Locations

For complete photos and videos of our trip visit our photos on our Instagram Page

You May Want to Join Our Boondocking Group on Facebook For More Information

You May Want to Join Our Campfire Recipes Group on Facebook