We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Camping at Catalina State Park

NC
Level Contributor
277 posts
14 reviews
Camping at Catalina State Park

As part of a longer roadtrip through TX, NM, and AZ, our family is considering a late May/early June trip to the Tucson area and Saguaro National Park. We'd like to visit both the east and west sides, do a little hiking (as the weather allows), and drive the scenic drives in both sections, looking for wildlife and at the amazing scenery.

While in the Tucson area, we'd also like to visit the Santa Catalina Mountains and Coronado National Forest, and drive the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway.

What are your opinions on tent camping at Catalina State Park? We love that this is a state park campground and not an RV park. We see it has showers, which would be a deal-breaker for us otherwise. How is the cell phone service here? We have AT&T, and we'd need to be able to check in back home and for work.

Will the weather be pleasant enough for tent camping here in late May/early June? We know we'd be out and about most of the days and would be returning in the cooler evenings.

How safe is this state park campground? Okay to leave our stuff in our tent while we're away each day?

Thank you for any advice and suggestions!

13 replies to this topic
Munich
Level Contributor
10,288 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

We stayed a few times in March and April here:

https:/…

But as we where in our RV we didn't bother about the weather. But is was not cold.

Beate

Marina, California
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
7,294 posts
106 reviews
2. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

What is your idea of "pleasant"? It'll be hot. That's close to the hottest time of the year for the area. I wouldn't do it. "Cooler evening" sounds like you're ignoring the humidity that tends to build up around that time of year, and the fact that it will still likely be near 100 degrees by the time the sun sets (and you're on a west-facing hill with the east blocked by Pusch Ridge).

Why not just camp on Mount Lemmon if you're interested in Mount Lemmon? It'll be nice up there at that time of year and there are a number of campgrounds.

Cell phone service: yes, you're right on the edge of a suburban area so it should be fine. Safety: I wouldn't leave anything valuable in the tent, but the tent and bags should be fine.

NC
Level Contributor
277 posts
14 reviews
3. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

Thank you for writing, Beate. That’s another good suggestion for a camping spot. We did wish they had showers, however. It looks like a beautiful place!

Colinaz, thank you for writing with your thoughts on camping at Catalina. We’re not ignoring the humidity that builds up time of year; we simply aren’t aware of it. We’re writing here to get some insights on the weather patterns and reaching out to those who may have tent camped here in the past. It looks like a wonderful state park full of beautiful trails and scenery, great facilities, and a great home base for visiting the Tucson area.

We will definitely look into your suggestion of Mount Lemmon and may seek out some camp sites there as well. We’re doing our research, and we appreciate your thoughts!

Thank you both!

NC
Level Contributor
277 posts
14 reviews
4. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

According to weather.com, it looks like the usual highs in late May/early June are at or around 100 degrees, but nightly lows are in the 60-degree range at Catalina State Park. How accurate is this?

We wonder how the humidity there compares to the hot, humid summers of the south.

We’d love to hear of anyone’s experiences tent camping in Catalina State Park in May/June.

Also, does anyone have suggestions for nice campgrounds in the Mount Lemmon area that are on par with Catalina State Park? Showers are really a necessity for us, plus cell phone coverage is a nice plus.

Thanks for any insight!

Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,408 posts
21 reviews
5. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

Those averages are pretty accurate. And, I'm not sure that colinaz was talking about late May/early June. Humidity is usually very low, particularly in June, until the Summer monsoon weather pattern set in, usually later June to early July. In early June, during the hottest part of the day, humidity will usually be under 10%. But it also could be well above 100 during the day. Check the daily records for June from the National Weather Service. There have been days over 110, and you wouldn't want to camp in those temperatures.

https:/…June.pdf

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
3,601 posts
117 reviews
6. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

I wouldn't tent camp in Catalina State Park that time of year. While it will be dry and the nights will cool off nicely, there is just nowhere to get in out of the heat there during the day. We do a lot of hiking there but rarely go there even in the early morning after the first part of May. Mt. Lemmon would be really nice that time of year. I can't think of any of the campgrounds there that have showers, though.

Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,408 posts
21 reviews
7. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

No showers at Mt. Lemmon campsites. And I certainly would not count on having reliable cell phone service on the mountain.

NC
Level Contributor
277 posts
14 reviews
8. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

MikePinTucson, thank you so much for your thoughtful replies and weather link.

Thank you, DesertBeachLover, for writing as well.

Our family is talking this over. Our trip timing is limited due to some of our daughter's activity commitments, so May/ June is our best window to visit. This would be a part of a longer roadtrip from NC to TX, NM, and AZ.

December could work as well, but our time there would have to be much shorter and with driving all that way we want to make it worth it! There's so much to see and take in!

Our family loves roadtrips, and we're very excited about this one. We have found several nice vrbo properties in Tucson that would be great lodging options. However, camping just adds so much to the experience. We will be staying in hotels and other vrbos on the trip, and Catalina State Park has such awesome reviews and looks to be just our kind of place.

We're very active on our trips, so we will be out and about during the days and returning to our lodging/campsite each evening. We could do hiking in Catalina State Park in the mornings or evenings, and then we'll be doing the scenic drives in Saguaro NP and the Mount Lemmon drive during the days. We're weighing our options, and truly appreciate your advice!

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
3,601 posts
117 reviews
9. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

We love Catalina State Park and have a yearly pass since we hike there so much. But we have never camped there even though we like to camp. One of the problems in the summer months is that there just isn't a lot of shade because of the kind of vegetation that grows there.

Personally, I wouldn't want to be here that time of year if I didn't at least have the option to be indoors in air conditioning during the hottest part of the day. I know you say you'll be out and about during the day, but other than Mt. Lemmon, you are still going to want to do any of your outdoor outings as early in the day as possible. Even if you're doing scenic drives, you're going to want to make stops and get out of the car and the heat is going to take a lot more out of you than you might think. I really think your best option is a vrbo rental. If you could find a place with a pool that would even be better since it would give you another way to cool down.

Las Cruces, New...
Level Contributor
1 post
12 reviews
10. Re: Camping at Catalina State Park

Late May/early June will be brutally hot. I strongly recommend going up into the mountains for cooler weather id you’re in a tent. The best time to camp the lower elevations like Catalina is fall after October 1 and early spring, which starts in February around this region.

Reply to: Camping at Catalina State Park
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted