Molino Basin Campground
While most other campgrounds in the Catalina District are closed in winter and open in summer, Molino Campground and Picnic Area has a season that is just the opposite. Because it is located lower on the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Molino is open during the late fall, winter, and early spring.
The weather here is pleasantly mild then, and any of those seasons is a good time to visit. Campsites are located in savannah -- desert grassland dotted with oaks. Along the banks of Molino Creek, which flows only during and immediately after rain or snowmelt, species such as cottonwood, Arizona live oak, and mesquite provide a scenic setting for the campsites they shelter. Views are dominated by nearby rugged, rocky hills. Roads in the campground are paved.
At a Glance
|Current Conditions:||Closed for the 2023 summer season.|
|Area Amenities:||Accessible,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:||No hookups. Trailers and RVs under 22’ permitted. No pack and saddle stock permitted in campground. The Sheep Management Area in nearby Pusch Ridge Wilderness is closed to dogs for the protection of desert bighorn sheep. Pets must be leashed at all times. Mountain bike access is generally east of the campground and not allowed in Wilderness. Limit of 2 vehicles and 10 persons per site. Campers must occupy site for the first 24 hours. 14-day stay limit per year.|
|Closest Towns:||Northeast of Tucson, between mile markers 5 and 6 on the Catalina Highway|
|Water:||No drinking water is available.|
|Operated By:||Santa Catalina Ranger District|
|Information Center:||Santa Catalina Ranger District 520-749-8700|
Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 5.7 miles to the campground. All campsites are adjacent to paved roads and are accessible by two-wheel drive low-clearance vehicles.
Campsites sit amid a high desert oak scrub ecosystem at an elevation of 4,500 feet on the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Along the banks of Molino Creek, which flows during and immediately after rain or snowmelt, species such as cottonwood, Arizona live oak and mesquite provide a scenic setting. Views are dominated by rugged, rocky hills. Colorful wildflowers bloom in spring.
Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are popular activities. The Arizona Trail, which extends from Mexico to Utah, passes through the campground, and the Molino Trail leads to the Pusch Ridge Wilderness (hiking and horseback riding only). A variety of additional trails, including some on 9,157' Mt. Lemmon, are available in the area for those who wish to venture away from the campground for the day.
This facility has a few dozen individual campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis, along with a reservable group camping and picnic area. The group area is accessible with a paved walkway, and is equipped with a large picnic shelter covering several picnic tables, two serving tables, grills and food storage lockers for bear safety. Six cleared tent pads, as well as one accessible tent site, are adjacent to the picnic area. Most of the tent sites are open and sunny. RVs and trailers are permitted.
Visitors must bring their own drinking water; none is provided.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
Campground CampingWinter season, scenic mountain surroundings, access to the Arizona Trail. Popular mountain biking area. Tables and fire grills.
|No. of Sites||37|
|No. of Accessible sites||Accessible to persons with disabilities.|
Covered ramada, tent pads, restroom, picnic tables, grills, and a group fire ring with benches. This site is also wheelchair accessible. Trailers and RVs under 22' permitted.
|No. of Sites||1|
|Reservation Info||Make reservations online at Rec.gov.|
|Fire Information||Group fire ring with benches.|
|Hookups - Electric||No hookups.|
|Fee charged for some activities:||Yes|