Bear Canyon is one of the deepest and longest rifts cut into the Santa Catalina range. Within its far-reaching canyon walls, all seven of the life zones that grace the mountain can be found. The Bear Canyon Picnic Area is located in the canyon’s upper reaches where the gorge it has cut into the mountain’s slopes provides a route for a short stretch of the Catalina Highway. This area is actually three picnic areas in one, located on both sides of the highway at the end of well marked turnouts. Sites here are shaded by ponderosa pines which grow in the protected confines of the canyon. Views from Bear Canyon include an area of the Santa Catalina Mountains where the slopes are covered with a jumble of boulders weathered into an unlikely collection of balanced rocks, pinnacles, arches and towers. This natural sculpture gallery is visible through the trees that shade the picnic area. While you’re enjoying your lunch you might want to take advantage of this opportunity to see how good you are at picking out identifiable images among the rock sculptures scattered across the side of the mountain. Accessible with persons with disabilities.
At a Glance
A Coronado Recreation Pass or a National Interagency Recreational Pass must be displayed. Day Pass $5. Week Pass $10. Annual Pass $20. Coronado Rec Passes purchased at any location, are good at all other Coronado National Forest fee areas. Passes are available for purchase at many locations. They may always be purchased at the fee area, while numerous private vendors offer the convenience of purchasing a pass prior to visiting the fee area. Passes sold by private vendors are the same price as those sold at Forest Service locations.
No garbage service. Please pack out everything you bring with you and anything someone else may have been thoughtless enough to leave. Sites at these picnic areas are served by centrally located parking areas which means you will have to carry your picnic basket or cooler a few steps to your table. This area is maintained for picnicking only. Camping is not permitted. No trailers permitted. Pack and saddle stock are not permitted in picnic area.
Northeast of Tucson, between mile posts 11 and 12 on the Catalina Highway.
No drinking water.
Santa Catalina Ranger District
Directions: Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 11.4 miles to the campground.
Canyon setting, shaded sites, picturesque rocks. Tables and fire grills. Three areas to choose from.