Located along the Control Road up Mt. Lemmon’s north slope, this campground is tucked away in a shallow, tree-filled canyon cut by Peppersauce Creek through rolling foothills covered with grass, oaks and yucca. Campsites at Peppersauce are spread throughout a creekside oasis of enormous Arizona sycamores and Arizona walnut trees that cast deep shade in summer and a touch of color in autumn.
These trees (and some notable clumps of poison ivy) cling to the banks of Peppersauce Creek, which provides sufficient moisture for them to prosper in spite of the fact that it's rocky streambed is dry most of the year. Of course, beware of the flash floods -- this creek can become a raging torrent in minutes when there is rain in the mountains above.
With its picturesque vegetation and dramatic setting at the foot of Mt. Lemmon, this is an outstanding area for enjoying an afternoon picnic or a weekend campout. But while you’re here, you’ll want to keep an eye on your hot sauce. This canyon was named by prospector Alex McKay, who camped here in about 1880 and reported that his hot sauce came up missing. The perpetrator (if there was one) has yet to be apprehended.
At a Glance
Camping: $10.00 per night per vehicle. Picnicking or other day use in Campgrounds: $10.00 per day. All fees are payable by cash, check, or money order at the time you occupy the site. Make check or money order payable to "USDA Forest Service." Coronado Recreation Fee Program passes are not required if vehicles remain in the campground. Limit of 2 vehicles and 10 persons per site. Campers must occupy site for the first 24 hours. 14-day stay limit per year.
RV Camping is 22 feet and less. No RV hook-ups. Trailers are discouraged as the sites are small and there are no pull-throughs. Pack and saddle stock are not permitted in campground or picnic area. Pets must leashed at all times. Please "Pack it in, pack it out".
6 miles southeast of Oracle on Forest Road 38 (40 miles northeast of Tucson).
Santa Catalina Ranger District
Santa Catalina Ranger District 520-749-8700
Directions: From Tucson, drive north on Oracle Road (US 89). Continue for 27 miles to State Highway 77. Turn right (east) and drive 10 miles to the town of Oracle. Take the first Oracle exit and travel 4 miles through town to Forest Road 38. Follow FR 38 to Peppersauce Canyon. Barring unusual rain or snow events, the unpaved Control Road up to Peppersauce Campground is accessible by two-wheel drive sedans. In dry conditions, a two-wheel drive high-clearance vehicle, like a pickup, is usually sufficient for the drive from Peppersauce Campground up to Mt. Lemmon. However, bad weather can quickly erode sections of the Control Road, so it is advised that travelers up to Mt. Lemmon use a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle. In winter, snow can quickly make the Control Road impassable by any vehicle. Obey the speed limit. Be prepared to stop. Be prepared to turn around and return the way you came.