Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to our customers’ most commonly asked questions. If you need further information, please contact your local Forest Service office.

What recreation opportunities are available along Catalina Highway?

The Catalina Highway (also known as the General Hitchcock Highway) is open to the public through to Summerhaven. Generally, developed vistas and picnic areas along the highway are available. Group sites and visitor centers remain closed. Some trails and campgrounds are available, primarily those outside of the Bighorn Fire burn scar.

Why are these restrictions in place? What hazards do I need to be aware of?

The closures are in place to protect public safety. The Bighorn Fire burned a substantial portion of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Hazards within the burn scar include burned and unstable trees, unpredictable conditions, and the heightened possibility of flooding and debris flows. Post-fire events can result in tragic losses even years after a fire occurs. It takes time for vegetation and habitats to recover from fire events like the Bighorn Fire. We all need to remain vigilant. Any violation of this prohibition is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or both (see 16 U.S.C. § 551, 18 U.S.C. § 3571(b)(6), 18 U.S.C. § 3581(b)(7)).

What is open at Sabino Canyon?

All Sabino Canyon Recreation Area trails are open as of March 1st. The visitor center is closed, but the Public Lands Interpretive Association is offering information and shop items outdoors. The Sabino Canyon Crawler is operating under enhanced safety protocols.

Is there anywhere to camp?

Rose Canyon will open April 2, 2021. Shower’s Pointe, Whitetail and Spencer Canyon campgrounds are closed at this time but are anticipated to be open by May 1, 2021 or sooner. Other developed campgrounds (Hirabayashi, Molino and Hitchcock) are open according to normal seasonal schedules. No dispersed, or roadside camping, is currently available along the Catalina Highway.

Which trails are open?

Trails outside of the Bighorn Fire burn scar and Sabino Canyon are open for use. Within the Bighorn Fire scar, a number of trails have been re-opened including the entirety of the Arizona National Scenic Trail (including West Fork Sabino, Wilderness of Rocks and Oracle Ridge). Box Camp #22, #93, and Palisades #99 trails are also open.

Pima Canyon Trail is open for the first 4 miles. Other Pusch Ridge canyon trails including Ventana Canyon and Finger Rock Canyon are closed at the fire scar boundary.

Trails that are accessible from Catalina State Park but travel into the Forest such as Romero Canyon are also closed.

How will I know if I’m entering a closed area?

The Santa Catalina Ranger District is working to post closure signs. However, please exercise caution and common sense. If an area looks burned, consider it closed and know that entering that area is a violation of the closure order.

Are trash and restroom services available?

Trash and restrooms are anticipated to be available at all locations except Windy Point by April 2, 2021. Trash and restrooms are anticipated to open at Windy Point by April 10, 2021

Where can I find details about all the closure orders?

All closure orders are posted on the Coronado National Forest website.

How long with this last?

The Bighorn closure order lasts until October 1, 2021 unless it is modified or rescinded before then. The current COVID closure order, which is focused primarily on group sites and the visitor centers across the Coronado National Forest, expires on April 30, 2021. The Coronado National Forest is continuously evaluating both closure orders.

Where can I find information about the Bighorn Fire?

The Bighorn Fire inciweb page is the best location for fire information.

You can also learn about the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) and the effort the Coronado National Forest and our partners are taking to address post fire conditions on InciWeb.

How can I help?

We have many great partner organizations that will be helping the recovery effort over the next few years such as Friends of Sabino Canyon, Public Lands Interpretive Association, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol and Tucson Off-road Cyclists & Advocates. More information available on our volunteering page.

Where can I ride my ATV/OHV/Dirtbike?

Maps showing roads open to various types of vehicles (highway legal vs all vehicles) can be picked up for free at all Coronado National Forest offices. There are several areas on the Coronado that are popular for OHV road riding: Redington Pass, Charouleau Gap, the Santa Rita Mountains, and the South Patagonia Mountains. Red Spring on the Coronado National Forest that is designed specifically for OHV trail riding (motorcycles). Please protect riding areas by leaving them cleaner than you found them and staying on the routes (off-roading is prohibited).

Regarding operator and/or vehicle registration, licensure, and insurance, State law applies.

Where and when can I ride my bicycle?

Most public roads on the Coronado National Forest are open to bicycles. Two areas popular for road cycling are Mt. Lemmon Highway and Sabino Canyon (including the days and hours when bicycling is allowed). There are three areas on the Coronado National Forest designed for mountain biking. You can also ride your bike on trails, but remember that bicycles are prohibited in wilderness.

Where can I camp?

If you enjoy camping with amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, and bear-proof food lockers, you can pay a camping fee to camp at the one of the Coronado’s 35 developed campgrounds. For those who prefer solitude and privacy, undeveloped (aka “dispersed camping”) is allowed in most places within the forest boundary and you can access these areas on forest roads and trails. There are no fees for dispersed camping, but please obey fire restrictions and pack out your trash.

How long can I camp?

You can camp on the Coronado National Forest for up to 14 days in any 60-day period.

Can I bring my dog?

You can bring your dog or other pet to most areas on the Coronado National Forest. There are two areas in the Santa Catalina Mountains where dogs are prohibited: Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and the Bighorn Sheep Management Area in Pusch Ridge Wilderness. In all other parts of the forest, please keep your dog on a leash.

Can I bring my service animal?

Service animals (dogs only) (policy) as defined by the Department of Justice’s regulations regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are allowed in all areas on the Coronado National Forest. For information, visit and

Are there fire restrictions?

Sometimes during hot or dry weather, the Coronado National Forest prohibits activities that can start fires. You can find information about current fire restrictions on National Forests in the Southwestern Region (including the Coronado National Forest) or by calling your local Coronado National Forest office.

Who do I call for emergencies?

Call 911.

What if I see a wildfire on the forest?

Call the dispatch center at (520) 202-2710.

Can I carry my gun?

You can carry a gun on the Coronado National Forest as long as you are compliant with state firearms laws. You may not carry a gun inside government-owned buildings such as the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center.

Where can I shoot my gun?

Recreational target shooting is allowed on the Coronado National Forest, as is firing a gun when engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to Arizona state law. Recreationists are reminded to keep other forest users safe when engaged in recreational target shooting or hunting, and to be respectful of natural resources. Contact the local ranger district office for information on areas best suited for recreational target shooting and to confirm there are no closures in effect.

Federal rules include:

  1. No shooting within a 150 yards of a campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area, residence or building;
  2. No shooting across a road, trail or body of water, or in any manner or place whereby any person property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge; and
  3. No shooting in a cave.

Please don’t shoot at signs or vegetation (such as saguaro cacti) and be sure to clean up and properly dispose of all debris including targets, spent cartridges, boxes, shells, and clay pigeons.

Can I swim?

You can swim at your own risk at Pena Blanca Lake and Fry Mesa Reservoir. Swimming is not recommended at Parker Canyon Lake or Riggs Lake. Swimming is prohibited in Rose Canyon Lake.

When is there water at 7-Falls?

There is drinking water available at the trailhead. The amount of water flowing in the creek (and at the waterfalls) varies by season, and sometimes by hour! When it is raining in the upper Santa Catalina Mountains or snow is melting, the creek often has water in it. Heavy flows and sudden flash floods can be very dangerous, so be aware of the upstream conditions and the daily forecast. Sometimes times the creek is dry. For current status, contact the Santa Catalina Ranger District at (520) 749-8700.

Where can I get maps of the Coronado National Forest?

Visitor maps for the Coronado National Forest can be purchased at all Coronado National Forest offices. Interactive maps to each recreation area (e.g., campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic drives) can be found on the Coronado’s website. Motor Vehicle Use Maps (road maps) can be picked up for free at all Coronado National Forest offices.

When/where can I collect wood?

There are places to collect firewood across the Coronado National Forest. Firewood collection is managed differently on each Ranger District. Check our permit information to learn more.

How much does it cost to collect wood?

The minimum charge for a firewood permit is $20. Depending on the location and availability, for $20 you can select either 2 cords of hardwoods ($10/cord) or 4 cords of softwoods ($5/cord). For more information about how to get a permit, when you can collect firewood, and maps, check our permit information page.

What do I need a permit for? (e.g., filming, taking photos, having a wedding, etc.)

You do not need a permit if you are taking photos or filming for personal use, or for collecting small quantities of forest products for personal use (e.g., picking up a few pinecones or rocks). A permit is required when you are asking for special privileges on National Forest land. Examples include gatherings of 75 people or more, operating a business such as an outfitting or guiding service, using the Forest for financial gain, occupying a recreation residence, and commercial filming. The use may be for a one-day event such as a wedding or bicycle race, or for up to 40 years such as a ski resort permit. Learn more about permits and fees.

Can I use my metal detector or pan for gold?

Both activities are allowed if you are removing small amounts of material for personal use. However, you may need a permit if mechanical equipment is being used, if you are causing significant ground disturbance, or if you are collecting for commercial gain. Additionally, metal detecting for precious metals is considered prospecting and is not allowed on mining claims without the claimant’s permission. And no historical artifacts may be removed from Federal lands.

Can I fly my drone?

Yes, you can fly a drone/UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) on National Forest lands. If you are flying a drone for commercial use, you need a permit. If you are flying for recreation or hobby, you do not. Recreational or hobby UAS use is flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire. In the FAA's interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, the FAA relied on the ordinary, dictionary definition of these terms. UAS use for hobby is a "pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation."

Some important things to be aware of:

  • UAS are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport” and, as such, they cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas.
  • UAS are not permitted to fly in areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in place, such as wildfires. Search the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website for current TFRs.
  • Never fly your UAS over or in close proximity to any wildfire operation. UAS flights over wildfires disrupt aerial firefighting operations and creative hazardous situations.
  • Keep UAS away from populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trailheads, and visitor centers.
  • Obey all privacy laws.
  • Do not fly over congressionally designated wilderness areas or primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportunities for solitude and quiet that they provide.
  • Ensure that you comply with all FAA regulations and guidance for flying your UAS. The FAA has authority over all airspace.
  • Do not fly any aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds (total weight, including payload and fuel source).
  • Do not fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm and even death. Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management.
  • Follow State wildlife and fish agency regulations on the use of UAS to search for or detect wildlife and fish.
  • Launch the UAS more than 100 meters (328 feet) from wildlife. Do not approach animals or birds vertically with the UAS.
  • Per Arizona Game and Fish Commission Rules R12-4-301, R12-4-319 and R12-4-320: Drones are considered aircraft and shall not be used to harass wildlife or assist in the taking of wildlife (used for hunting).
  • Per New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Tile 19.31.10.13: It is unlawful to shoot at, pursue, harass, harry, drive or rally any protected species by use of or from a motor driven vehicle (i.e. drone)

Do I have to pay to park?

There are no “parking fees” on the Coronado National Forest. Visitors who use amenities at developed recreation sites pay a user fee ($8 per day or $10 per week), and your payment is very important to help the Coronado maintain these amenities. There are also fees for camping in developed campgrounds and for using a group site.

What pass do I need?

See previous answer. For people who visit the Coronado National Forest frequently, an annual pass is often the best deal.

Where do I buy a pass?

You can buy day and week passes at developed recreation sites. You can buy annual passes at your local Forest Service office, Palisades Visitor Center (Mt Lemmon), Santa Rita Lodge (Madera Canyon), and online. For campground camping, you can purchase a pass at the site (check or cash). For Rose Canyon Campground, you can make a reservation and pay your fee online.

Are there fees at Sabino Canyon and on Mt. Lemmon?

Visiting Sabino Canyon Recreation Area requires a pass ($8/day, $10/week, or $40/year). On Mt. Lemmon, you can drive the highway, stop at vista points and most trailheads, and travel to Summerhaven and Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley fee-free. There are user fees at 11 day use recreation sites (most are picnic areas) on Mt. Lemmon and you can purchase a passes at any of these sites. There are also fees for camping in developed campgrounds and you can pay these fees at each site.

If I take an uber or taxi into the forest, do I still have to pay?

Yes. Recreation fees on the Coronado National Forest are for people who use the amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables.

I received a Notice of Required Fee. Where can I pay it?

You must pay within 30 days and acceptable forms of payment are a personal check or money order. To pay the fee, you can take it to your local Coronado National Forest office or put a stamp on it and place it in the mail.

Can I reserve a cabin, campsite, or group use area?

Yes. Although most campgrounds operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis, you can reserve all cabins, some campsites, and most group use areas on the Coronado National Forest by contacting the national reservations system online or 1-877-444-6777 (toll free).

Are forest roads open to the public? Can I drive my car on Forest Roads?

Each Forest Service road exists to access a specified area or need identified as necessary for management of the portion of national forest the road serves. Most roads are constructed and maintained with funds appropriated by Congress. These roads are necessary for management of the national forests. The Forest Service is the owner of these roads. (By contrast, "public roads" are roads owned by cities, states, and counties, constructed and maintained with highway user funds such as gas tax and vehicle license fees, and are intended for all uses in the general commerce of the United States.) Thus, while Forest Service roads are necessary for management of the public's national forests, the roads themselves may not individually be open to all types of vehicles at all times.

For example: Most national forest roads are constructed and maintained for use by prudent drivers in high clearance vehicles (such as pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, and commercial trucks) as opposed to ordinary passenger cars. Speed of travel is not usually a consideration in the design of "high clearance" roads. Different skills are needed to drive on these roads than down the highway in the family sedan.

Snow is not generally plowed on Forest Service roads.

Individual roads may be closed to vehicles to protect resources or simply because the need for a road is intermittent in nature. Forest Service roads closed to vehicles are usually open to non-motorized use such as bicycle and pedestrian use.

Download motor vehicle use maps for your trip and enjoy our scenic drives.

When you visit the Coronado or other national forests, you will probably reach your destination by traveling on a State or County road initially and often lastly a Forest Service road; some may be closed to motorized use, others may be open. Please drive carefully paying attention to wildlife crossing the road, other traffic, sharp curves, and delicate surface conditions.

Can I bring my trailer or RV?

Yes. Trailers and RVs are welcome on the Coronado National Forest. Be aware that mountain roads can be narrow, winding, sometimes rough, some vehicle length combinations exceed what the road alignment will physically allow to pass, and also know that that parking for larger rigs is limited in regard to number or length of spaces in many areas. Some campsites can accommodate small trailers and a few campgrounds have areas for larger trailers and RVs. Please contact your local Forest Service office for more information.

When is Sabino Canyon open?

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The Sabino Canyon Visitor Center is open 8:00 to 4:30 year-round, but closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How much does it cost?

The recreation fee for Sabino Canyon is $8 per day or $10 per week. Coronado National Forest annual passes and Interagency (America the Beautiful) passes are also valid here.

How do I get information about the shuttle (prices, hours, etc.)?

The Sabino Canyon Shuttle is operated by a third party. Prices, hours, and more are available through their website.

Can I ride my bike in Sabino Canyon?

Bicycles are allowed in Sabino Canyon before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Bicycling is prohibited on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Can I bring my dog/pet?

No. Pets are prohibited in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

When is the trail to 7 Falls open?

The 7 Falls trail is always open. Shuttle service to the trailhead has limited hours, but you can always walk to the trailhead from the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center.

When is there water at 7 Falls?

There is drinking water available at the trailhead. The amount of water flowing in the creek (and at the waterfalls) varies by season, and sometimes by hour! When it is raining in the upper Santa Catalina Mountains or snow is melting, the creek often has water in it. Heavy flows and sudden flash floods can be very dangerous, so be aware of the upstream conditions and the daily forecast. Sometimes times the creek is dry. For current status, contact the Santa Catalina Ranger District at (520) 749-8700.

How hard is the hike to 7 Falls?

The trail is moderately difficult. If you start at the visitor center, the hike to the falls is a little over 8 miles round trip. If you ride the shuttle to the trailhead, the hike is about 5 miles round trip. The trail’s tread is rocky and crosses the creek many times. The best time to hike this trail is October - May. Summer temperatures are often over 100 degrees and there is little shade on the trail. Drinking water is available at the trailhead, but not along the trail. Before hiking this trail, be prepared by contacting the Santa Catalina Ranger District to ask about the water level in the creek (call 520-749-8700), checking the local forecast (flash flooding is a hazard), wearing sun protection (hat, sunscreen) and sturdy hiking shoes, and carrying plenty of drinking water.

Where can I hike, mountain bike, or ride my horse on a trail?

The Coronado National Forest offers over 1,000 miles of trails. Most are open to all non-motorized travel. Mountain bikes are not allowed in wilderness, and some trails are dangerous for horses.

Are there some trails for visitors with disabilities (including wheelchairs)?

Yes. We have a listing of our accessible trails to help you find a suitable trail.

What kinds of wildlife are on the Coronado?

The variety of geology, vegetation, and climate in the Coronado National Forest’s sky island mountain ranges are extremely diverse and includes a number of threatened and endangered animal species. Nearly 600 vertebrate species are found here including unusual animals such as the coati, gila monster, and javelina. Mountain lions, bobcats, and black bears make the Coronado their home. Bird life is especially rich, with over 400 species of birds found in southeastern Arizona (Tucson Audubon Society). The Arizona Game and Fish Department provides guides and pamphlets about Arizona wildlife.





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