Catalina State Park is adjacent to Coronado National Forest on the western slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. Its average elevation is 3,000 feet but varies dramatically with high ridges, and low creek beds. Mount Lemmon, with a summit elevation of 9,159 feet, is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. We are fortunate to have visited there before it was subjected to fire. The public won’t be able to visit most if not all of fire-scarred Mount Lemmon and Sabino Canyon until November 1, 2020.
Patti, Deb’s cousin, and her husband, George met us at Catalina State Park for some hiking. After forty-two years of sharing thoughts with one another, Deb and I both enjoyed hiking and visiting with someone new. Patti and George also winter in the southern states, and go home to Minnesota in the summer.
Sabino Canyon is a significant canyon located in the Santa Catalina Mountains and was our entry point to Mount Lemmon. During our one week stay we hiked this area three times. It was a wonderful surprise to walk among towering pine trees in Arizona, who knew? Saguaro cactus on the lower elevations and Ponderosa Pines up above. Soaring mountains, deep canyons, the Sonoran Desert draws over a million visitors a year to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
We tried camping in Catalina State Park, but it was full. Our next best local choice was a seedy, road side, don’t stare, be thankful you have a spot, kind of place. I was walking the dusty RV Park one morning, and talked with several people living there, there on society’s fringe tucked between decades old sun beaten travel trailers. One guy’s tool chest, and equipment was stationed outside in the elements, and his pistol-grip fire arm was hanging loose in his left hand. I didn’t have very many questions after all.
We also visited with old time acquittances from Minnesota, Tom and Ruth, they too had traveled the U.S. in a travel trailer for over a year before settling down in an Arizona golfing community. They were so very gracious during our visit, treating us to dinner and giving us a grand tour of the SaddleBrooke Ranch. It was so nice we scheduled an appointment to tour the model homes. I had to promise Deb I would leave the check book behind in the trailer. After forty-two years of wanting shinny things she really knows me. Paved streets, beautiful landscaping, a four or maybe five-star restaurant, excellent swimming pools, wood shop, crafting and exercise studios, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they held underground submarine races somewhere on site. At least we had an armed guard at our RV Park.
Catalina State Park
Catalina Mountains, Heading to Mount Lemmon