Spring Camping in Tucson

Tucson Spring Camping – Mild Weather & Unique Joys

Spring camping in the Tucson, Arizona area brings together golfers, hikers, bird watchers, nature photographers, spring wildflower followers, and even snow skiers.

Does camping in the desert bring visions of parched, lost, souls who crawl around searching for water? Not for those in the know about the sweet weather and variety of unique events in the Tucson spring season.

Coronado National Forest

Molino Basin Campground and General Hitchcock Campground

Most of the campgrounds in the Catalina Mountains are only open during the summer months. However, two camps below the 6,000-foot level are open until May. Take advantage of the great combination of mild camping weather at lower altitudes, and go skiing about a 15-mile drive further up the Catalina Mountain Highway-Scenic Byway to the 9,000 foot high Ski Valley on Mt. Lemmon.

Molino Basin and General Hitchcock campgrounds are open all winter and through the spring season to May. Both are considered rustic because they do not offer showers or drinkable water. Campers must carry their own drinking water in, and 1 gallon per person per day is recommended. Shade trees, picnic tables, grills, toilets, and bear-proof trash containers are scattered appropriately throughout the campsites. Hiking trails are excellent for all levels of hiker ability, from beginner to expert at both sites, as well.

The differences are that Molino Basin is at 4,500 feet and at a wide, rolling area, offering bigger sites, accommodating larger RVs, with easy in and out, as well as tents. It is a lower elevation with access to trails designated for horses. General Hitchcock is at about 5,500 feet in a narrow canyon with fewer, intimate sites, more suited for tents.

Catalina State Park

For campers needing more of the home comforts, down in the Tucson Basin along Oracle Road at the northwest end about 20 minutes from downtown Tucson, is Catalina State Park. It accommodates RV’s and tents, offering electric hook-ups, a visitor center with a gift shop & exhibit, two full bathhouses with sparkling clean showers.

Like all Arizona State Parks with such facilities, day use, overnights, and up to 14-night stays are welcome. There is even a dumpsite for RV’s convenience, and several free park trail tours, as well as other scheduled events. The most popular trail in the park is the Romero Ruins Trail, with an ancient Hohokam Native American Ball Park and other archaeological sites well marked along the loop trail.

Picacho Peak State Park

The dormant volcano jetting out of the desert floor is a prominent sight from miles away. Picacho Peak is another site with bathhouse comforts, like Catalina State Park, and is about 30 minutes West of Interstate10 Highway of Catalina State Park.

Picacho Peak has awesome views, trails, and even a cave the children can safely walk into. There are showers, electric hook-ups, a playground, a dump station, a visitor center with a gift shop, and exhibits.

According to Assistant Director Jay Ream in the “2009 Ranger Cam,” the Picacho Peak hills have exploded in yellow flowers, thanks to the heavy early spring rains. March camping is among the Mexican Goldpoppies, Brittlebush, and Creosote yellows. April finds the purple Lupines taking their royal stand across the Picacho hills. May brings the various whites, salmons, and yellows of the desert cacti.

See the following website for further information on pricing, regulations, and road conditions for these Tucson area campgrounds or other Southern Arizona campgrounds:

  • Coronado National Forest Campgrounds

How to Find Hidden Falls in Catalina State Park near Tucson

Arizona Ghost Towns – Jerome


Leave a Comment