Camping near Tucson

Camp near Tucson to explore caves, ancient ruins, and more diverse natural landscapes.

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94% (1756 reviews)

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Camping near Tucson guide

Overview

Found in the Sonoran Desert, Tucson has an arid landscape dotted with giant saguaro cacti and rugged mountains. Look for camping areas nearby in Santa Catalina Mountains to catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep or one of the many bird species that call it home. Catalina State Park features ancient ruins and plenty of campsites, including extra-large spots for RVers. Saguaro National Park also has walk-in campsites (with no vehicle access) and plenty of serene scenery. Rustic campsites that do offer drive-in access can be found in Colossal Cave Mountain Park, where campers can book a guide-led cave tour through underground passages.

Where to go

Saguaro National Park

Situated right next to Tucson, Saguaro National Park is under 20 minutes from the heart of the city. The park is divided into two districts—Rincon Mountain District on the east side and Tucson Mountain District on the west. The park is booming with biodiversity—new plant species are still recorded today. Campers can snag a home base within the park boundary, but be prepared to pack light since campsites are walk-in only. Camping permits are also required. Then, view the beautiful desert landscape by foot, on horseback, or comfortably in a car—Cactus Forest Drive and Bajada Loop Drive are two vehicle-friendly options.

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park offers 5,500 acres only a 20-minute drive from Tucson. The park is situated at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains and is open year-round for hiking, horseback riding, cycling, birdwatching, and camping. RV and tent campsites are up for grabs, featuring picnic tables, fire rings with BBQ grills, and full hookups. Campers will also find restrooms and shower facilities available. Fill the hours of the day by exploring Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail—a popular favorite that showcases ruins from the Hohokam culture dating back to 500 AD.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Drive southeast to venture through 3.5 miles of underground passageways in Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Scramble along rock bridges, climb ladders, and look at the stalagmites and stalactites that started forming 80 million years ago. Colossal Cave Mountain Park also has plenty of horseback riding trails, hiking trails, and scenic picnic spots above ground. Pet-friendly campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Water is limited, so bring extra. Small to medium-sized RVs are welcome, but there are no electricity or dump stations.

When to go

The most comfortable times to visit Tucson are May and April before summer begins, and September and October when it’s coming to a close. In late April, May, and early June, the giant saguaro cacti flower, making the already beautiful landscape even more picturesque. The rainiest and hottest months in Tucson are July and August, when daytime temperatures often exceed 100°F. The desert does get chilly when the sun goes down, so bring some layers for late nights around the firepit.

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