Santa Catalina Recreation Area

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Tucson, AZ

Located adjacent to Tucson, the Santa Catalina Recreation Area is the most heavily visited part of the Coronado National Forest.  The Catalina Highway (General Hitchcock or 833) winds nearly to the top of 9.157 foot Mt. Lemmon, providing paved access to trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas and even a downhill ski area, Ski Valley.  The Santa Catalinas are home to Sabino Canyon and the 56,933 acre Pusch Ridge Wilderness area.

The nearby Rincon Mountains receive fewer visitors but are home to such notable features as the Rincon Mountain Wilderness which is adjacent to Saguaro National Park West.

At a Glance

Restrictions: Maximum RV length is 22 feet or less. 
Closest Towns: Tucson
Passes: The Coronado Recreation passes are valid at Mt. Lemmon, Madera and Sabino Canyons.  The Day pass is $5.00.  The Annual pass is $20.00.  The Senior pass (62 yrs.+ of age and a U.S. resident) is $80.00 Lifetime or $20.00 Annual.  The Access pass (permanently disabled) is free, however, a doctor's letter must be provided. 
Information Center: Santa Catalina Ranger District 520-749-8700

General Information

General Notes:

Spencer Canyon, Rose Canyon Lake, Whitetail, and Showers Point campgrounds are all managed by Recreation Resource Management under a special use permit with the Coronado National Forest. These sites are open from about Easter to sometime in October. For more information please call them directly. For Spencer Canyon Campground please call: 520-576-1492, for Rose Canyon Lake Campground please call: 520-576-3091 or 520-576-1477, Whitetail Campground please call:  520-576-9198, and for Showers Point Campground please call:  520-576-1325. You can reserve campsite and/or group areas at these sites at Please note the Interagency and National Forest passes do not include access to these areas.


Molino Basin and Gordon Hirabayashi Campgrounds are open from November 1st - April 30th. General Hitchock Campground is open from May 1st – Oct 31st. Peppersauce Campground is open year-round.

Molino Basin Campground is located near milepost 6 on the Catalina Highway. There are 37 first-come, first served campsites for $10 a night. There is one reservable group site which can be reserved through There is no drinking water available at Molino Basin Campground.

Gordon Hirabayashi Campground is located near milepost 7 on the Catalina Highway. There are 11 first-come, first served campsites. The sites are $10 a night. There is no drinking water available.

General Hitchcock Campground is located at mile post 12 along the Catalina Highway. There are 12 tent only, first- come, first served campsites.  These sites are $10 a night. There is no drinking water available at this campground

Peppersauce Campground is located 15 miles South East of the town of Oracle on Forest Road 38. There are 17 first-come, first served campsites. The individual sites are $10 a night. There is one reserveable group site. You can reserve the group site through There is drinking water available.


For current information on guided nature walks, hikes, children’s programs, family activities, and school field trips, go to 


A Standard Amenity Fee is required at certain areas on the Santa Catalina Ranger District including Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Middle Bear, Chichauhua Pine, Cypress, Inspiration Rock, Loma Linda Picnic Area, Alder, Box Elder, Marshall Gulch, and Mt. Lemmon Recreation Site. The day pass for the fee sites in the forest is $5. A week pass is $10. An annual pass is $20. The Forest also sells and accepts the $80 Inter Agency Annual Pass. You can purchase these passes at the Palisades Visitor Center, open Thursday-Monday from 8-4:30 or open every day from 8-4:30 May 1 – October 31. These passes are also sold at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, open seven days a week from 8-4:30. You can also purchase or obtain other Inter Agency passes that work on the Forest, including the $10 Senior Pass, the free Military Pass, the free Access Pass, and the free 4th Grader or Every Kid in a Park Pass at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center.

Please note these passes do not include access to Rose Canyon Lake. The day pass for Rose Canyon Lake can be purchased on site.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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