FAQ - Passes, Permits & Fees

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees


Why do I pay a fee to use recreation facilities?

Charging fees for the use of public lands was established when President Clinton signed Public Law 104-134 in March 1996. This law authorized the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service to charge fees and keep 80% for reinvestment in recreation facilities, wildlife habitat, and education programs at the fee site.

As the name implied, the purpose was to demonstrate whether the program was viable. In 2004, Congress concluded the demonstration phase was a success, and provided a ten-year extension to the fee collection program. 

Currently, the Forest Service is implementing some changes to the Fee Program required by this 2004 legislation. These changes will be implemented consistently on a nationwide basis, including fee sites on the Coronado National Forest. .

How are fees collected?

Fees are generally collected through the sale of passes. On the Coronado National Forest, day, week, and annual passes are available. And though these passes may vary somewhat in appearance depending on where you purchase them, every pass is good at all fee sites on the Forest.

How much do Passes cost?

The following fees apply to all Coronado National Forest fee areas:

  • $5 per vehicle per day
  • $10 per vehicle per week
  • $20 per vehicle per year (valid for one year from date of purchase)

At the present time, those who access fee areas by means other than vehicle do not need to purchase a pass.

Where can I buy Catalina Mountains Passes?

Passes can be purchased at all Ranger District Offices, the Forest Supervisor's Office, and at signed recreation sites. In addition, passes can be purchhased from the following vendors. Link to table of vendors.

Can I park along Sabino Canyon Road and avoid paying the fee at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area?

Pima County ordinances prohibit parking along Sabino Canyon Road.  Violators may be subject to fines. This area is routinely patrolled by deputies of the Pima County Sherrifs Office. Of course, you must comply with local parking ordinances near other fee sites, too.

Why should I support the fee program?

If you're a frequent visitor to Coronado National Forest fee sites, you already know places like Madera Canyon and Mt. Lemmon are special.  You and the Forest Service want high quality facilities and services.  So the fees we collect are critical for funding repairs and maintenance and improving the visitor experience. Your financial support contributes to the conservation and protection of our unique Sonoran Desert resources and facilities not just for you, but for your children and grandchildren, too.

What would happen if you didn't charge fees?

Most facilities on National Forests were built many years ago. For example, many Sabino Canyon facilities are 30-50 years old; some were even built in the 1930s.  Most of these facilities need repair or replacement and were not built to handle current volumes of visitation (about 1.3 million visitors in Sabino Canyon every year).  If we don't start repairing and replacing these facilities, we will have to remove them or close areas.  Unfortunately, Congressional appropriations for recreation operations and maintenance are declining.  Pass receipts won't meet all our needs, so other resources such as partnerships, grants and volunteer assistance remain critical in helping to meet total needs.

Do Sabino Canyon Tours shuttle riders have to buy a pass?

Anyone who accesses Sabino Canyon from the parking lot, except those on official business or with pre-scheduled school groups, must have a pass.  Those who ride the shuttle must also purchase shuttle tickets.

Does everyone have to buy a pass?

No.  The pass applies only to those who recreate in the fee area. Passes are NOT needed by

  • visitors conducting business with the Forest Service at the Santa Catalina Ranger District office in Sabino Canyon
  • vendors or contractors providing products or services purchased by the Forest Service
  • Forest Service and other government employees on official business
  • volunteers while performing volunteer duties
  • school groups participating in education classes sponsored by the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists
  • emergency responders (search and rescue, fire, medical, law enforcement)

During what hours will I be required to pay the fee?

  Day use recreation sites are open between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. daily.

Can I use my Interagency Senior Pass, Interagency Access Pass,  or Interagency National Pass, fee ?

Yes.  The Interagency Senior Pass and Interagency Access Pass as well as the Golden Eagle Pass will be accepted for a 100% discount on any fee area pass.

Get more information about Interagency Senior Pass and Interagency Access Pass Passports online, or call any Forest Service office.

Are there any free days?

Yes.  Free days include Christmas, New Years Day, Free Fishing Day (in June), and other days at the discretion of Forest Service officials. Free days are scheduled and announced in advance.

How can I get more information about the Coronado National Forest fee program?

Write to:

Fee Program Manager
300 W. Congress St.
Tucson, AZ 85701
Phone 520-388-8300       

Email us. Please put "Fees" in the subject line of your email.