Gordon Hirabayashi Campground

Area Status: Open

Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site

This site is also known as Prison Camp.The site was a Federal Honor Camp beginning in 1937 to house federal prisoners supplying labor to build a road for access into the Santa Catalina Mountains. Prisoners had been convicted of federal crimes ranging from immigration law violations to tax evasion to bank robbery.

During World War II, many of the prisoners of this camp were conscientious objectors whose religions prohibited them from serving in the military. Some were Japanese Americans protesting the Japanese American Relocation, the largest forced removal and incarceration in U.S. History that started after the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Over 100,000 Japanese Americans, many American Citizens, were imprisoned in internment camps for fear they would conduct espionage and sabotage along the west coast.

Gordon Hirabayashi was a senior at the University of Washington in 1942. He challenged the constitutionality of internment based on race or ancestry. He turned himself in to the FBI rather than report for relocation. He was convicted and sentenced to serve at the Federal Honor Camp in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

In 1987, Hirabayashi’s case was overturned. A federal commission determined that the internment had been motivated by racial prejudice and wartime hysteria. In 1988, the Civil Liberties Act was signed by President Ronald Reagan, which acknowledged the injustice and apologized for the internment.

In 1999, the Coronado National Forest renamed the site in honor of Dr. Hirabayashi and the other resisters of conscience who were imprisoned there. Dr. Hirabayashi and others attended the dedication ceremony.

At a Glance

Area Amenities: Interpretive Site, Tent camping, Camping trailer, Fee charged for some activities, Picnic tables, Toilets, Parking
Fees: Single site: $20.  With Golden Age/Access or Interagency Senior/Access pass $10. Group site: $50 plus $10 per vehicle. Payable with cash or check.
Open Season: October - April
Restrictions: RV Camping is 22 feet and less. No hookups. No pack and saddle stock permitted in campground.  Pack and saddle stock are allowed in group site. The Sheep Management Area in nearby Pusch Ridge Wilderness is closed to dogs for the protection of desert bighorn sheep. Mountain bike access is generally east of the campground and not allowed in Wilderness. Pets must be leashed at all times.
Closest Towns: Northeast of Tucson, just beyond mile marker 7 on the Catalina Highway.
Water: No drinking water is available.
Restroom: Yes
Operated By: Santa Catalina Ranger District

General Information

Directions: Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue approximately 7 miles to the campground. As you go up the mountain, the campground entrance is on your left.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Winter season, scenic mountain surroundings. Historic Area. Tables and fire grills.
No. of Sites 12
No. of Accessible sites Accessible to persons with disabilities.

RV Camping

Group Camping

Horse Camping


Interpretive Site: Yes
Camping trailer: Yes
Picnic tables: Yes
Tent camping: Yes
Fee charged for some activities: Yes
Toilets: Yes
Parking: Yes

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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  Elevation : 
5,000 feet