Take care with the weather! The heat in Tucson – especially with a general lack of shade, water and relief from the sun – should be taken very seriously, hikers do die from the heat. As you go up the Santa Catalina Mountains be careful to be aware of the change in temperature and conditions, as unlikely as snow storms and snow covered trails might seem in Tucson both happen every year on the mountain and winter storms can drop the temperatures to dangerously cold VERY quickly!
Because of weather, rockfall and construction the General Hitchcock Highway (sometimes referred to both as the Catalina Highway and the Mount Lemmon Highway) is sometimes closed at the base of the mountain. For current conditions you can try calling (520) 547-7510 (often recommended and has been around for years), Pima Sheriff (see the Community Bulletin section) or Pima County Sheriff on Facebook and Pima Country Road Closures, although please take note that in quickly changing weather conditions none of these may be 100% ‘up to the minute’…
Pima County Regional Flood Control District ALERT System – This is an interesting resource for seeing precipitation data from weather stations in and around the Santa Catalina Mountains – the Pima County Website says “This network provides information to county personnel and other agencies about precipitation, stormwater runoff, and weather conditions affecting our regional watersheds.”
- Sirena’s Wanderings
- Frank S. Rose – Flowers and more – Frank Rose is the author of Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona and Mountain Trees of Southern Arizona.
- Trail Talk – Summit Hut Blog – A of information from myself and many other authors about a variety of adventures – the Summit Hut has been a locally owned Tucson business for over 40 years and I am proud to work there!
- Desert Mountaineer
- Tucson Hikes – My Hikes in and about Tucson
- Ineo Mons
- Hiking, Trekking Blog: Reports – Stories – Pictures Photos, videos, details and trip reports from our hiking and traveling in AZ and wherever else we find ourselves!
- HikeArizona – This may be the most complete and up-to-date set of information on Arizona hikes anywhere on the web! Trip reports, pictures, descriptions and gps information all combine into an amazing resource.
- Sky Islands Traverse – This is an inspired route thru the sky islands of Southern Arizona including the Santa Catalina Mountains
- Tucson Hikers Yahoo Group – quite a few updates on outdoor news (fire, weather, rescues, legal,…) and some interesting discussions.
- Sierra Club – Tucson Trail Guide
- hikes.chaoscanyon.net – Nice maps and files for a number of hikes around Tucson and in Arizona
- The Arizona Trail Association – This recently completed, inspiring and amazing route spanning Arizona runs thru the Santa Catalina Mountains.
- Coronado National Forest – Related sites:
- Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter – “Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter is an exceptional science learning facility located at Steward Observatory’s “sky island” observing site just north of Tucson, Arizona.” Programs that the public can participate in include SkyNights.
- Mount Lemmon Hummingbird Banding – a unique opportunity to learn about Hummingbirds and see them up close (and maybe even hold one!), sessions on Mount Lemmon take place in the warmer months – a few 2013 pictures.
- Catalina State Park – located on the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains this is a great gateway into the mountains.
- Friends of Catalina State Park – An organization supporting Catalina State Park
- Oracle State Park – On the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains this park has a number of trails, regular tours of the Historic Kannally Ranch House and provides Environmental Field Trip Programs for school groups. If you want to visit check there website – the days/hours that the park are open are limited.
- Friends of Oracle State Park – The Friends of Oracle State Park have been instrumental in keeping Oracle State Park open and operating – it is inspiring to take a moment and read about the history of this organization.
- Steam Pump Ranch – In 1874 the Steam Pump Ranch was established by George Pusch and John Zellweger the steam pump and served as a stopover for travelers and cattle. This site is now owned and managed by the town of Oro Valley – the ranch now hosts regular activities including the Oro Valley Farmer’s Market.
- Sabino Canyon Naturalists – “We are a volunteer organization devoted to helping people of all ages appreciate the natural wonder of Sabino Canyon, a beautiful and ecologically diverse riparian area in the Sonoran Desert.”
- Friends of Redington Pass – “Friends of Redington Pass envision protection of the rural backcountry setting of Redington Pass for all recreational and resource users, while providing for public access and management of future diversified recreational growth.”
- Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center – A great organization that helps to raise awareness about and eliminate Buffelgrass – an invasive nonnative grass introduced from Africa for cattle forage.
Climbing is huge in Tucson! This site is mainly about hiking, but some of the destinations are the same:
- Southern Arizona Hiking Club – With a history dating back to 1958 and a large number of active members this is a great organization to look into if you are interesting in joining a hiking club. The SAHC website will often have good trail and information updates.
- The Ramblers Club
- Tucson Hiking Meetup Group
- Green Valley Recreation Hiking Club
- Dove Mountain Hikers (also note that the Dove Mountain Hikers have great information available for the Tortolita Mountains)
- Tucson Trail Runners – A long running group and an amazing group of endurance athletes – if you are looking for some good run (or hike!) ideas their list of routes is not to be missed!
- Tucson Trail Runners Meetup Group
Books and Maps
- The Santa Catalina Mountains, A Guide to the Trails and Routes – Follow the link to see information on this amazing, but out-of-print guide book.
- (Print Book) Tucson Hiking Guide, Betty Leavengood – A great resource for trails in a number of ranges near Tucson. This guide meant to be comprehensive, but if the hike you are looking for is included there is a good chance this guide has great information about the hike (often some great historical details).
- (Print Map) Recreation Map – Santa Catalina Mountains, Green Trails – The most recent addition to the available option for a printed map of the Catalina Mountains.
- (Print Map) Southern Arizona Hiking Club Maps – The SAHC Maps are notable for their trail information – an amazing resource, but these have not been updated in a number of years so do not expect them to be 100% accurate.
- Hiker’s guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona by Edgar B Heylmun – I have not had a chance to look at this book yet, I have never heard it referenced and have not seen used copies available…
- Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona
- Mountain Trees of Southern Arizona
- Look to the Mountains, An in-depth look into the lives and times of the people who shaped the history of the Catalina Mountains – A fantastic book covering a broad swath of history and great pictures!
- Paradise Found, The Settlement of the Santa Catalina Mountains – A great book on the history of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
- Frog Mountain Blues – Not strictly history but a tremendous resource and incredible book.
- Archaeology in the Mountain Shadows: Exploring the Romero Ruin – A short, concise and accessible guide to the Romero Ruin located in Catalina State Park
- Arizona Place Names by Will Croft Barnes provides place name history from across the state – note that a useful resource is the Google Books page on this book that has the ‘Search Inside’ feature for quickly finding page references (note this book has a number of editions).
- Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site – this page has several links about the history of the ‘Prison Camp’ area.
- Oro Valley Historical Society – Includes several great documents about the Pusch family and the Steam Pump Ranch!
- Arizona Historical Society
- American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936, From the University of Chicago Library – part of the American Memory collection from the Library of Congress this collection of photographs includes content from several ranges near Tucson. The botanist Henry Cowles (shown here in 1913 in the Santa Catalina Mountains) is strongly associated with these pictures and I assume that (at least many of) the pictures from the Santa Catalina Mountains came from the 1913 International Phytogeographic Excursion. You can search the collection for ‘Santa Catalina Mountains’ or look at the a list of places where the photographs were taken. While the focus of this collection is botany the landscape of the Santa Catalina Mountains is certainly part of these photographs, some of my favorites from the Santa Catalina Mountains:
- Forest Service Southwestern Region – Coronado National Forest Historical Photographs – flickr set – pictures from all across the Coronado National Forest (these are presented on their website but I think this flickr version is much easier to browse). A few favorites:
- THE FOREST SERVICE AND THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS: 1933-42 – There are a few interesting details from the Santa Catalina Mountains in Chapter 15: Coronado National Forest including an old picture of the Lemon Rock Lookout and Sabino Canyon.
- Old Sign on the road up the Santa Catalina Mountains indicating up/down travel times!
- Ring Bother’s History – Bob’s Projects – Some great historical information, interesting and easy to read – certainly don’t miss the ‘The History of the Catalina Foothills and Tanque Verde Valley’ and ‘The History of Stagecoaches in Tucson, Arizona’
Turkeys in the Santa Catalina Mountains
This page is not meant to be a comprehensive resource – but seeing Turkeys several times in the Santa Catalina Mountains and reading about their history of Turkeys in the range I thought it would be worthwhile to link to a couple of interesting documents about these awesome birds!
Southeastern Arizona Wild Turkey Management Plan – 2000 – This PDF from the Arizona Game and Fish Department has some great information, I found the history of Translocations from the mid-20th century particularly interesting.
Gould’s turkeys making a comeback in Arizona – 2006 – An article about a recent release of Gould’s Turkeys in the Santa Catalina Mountains. (A Word Document version can be found here.)
Arizona Game and Fish Department – Turkey (Big Game) – some very basic notes on Turkeys in the state.
Search and Rescue
- SARCI – SEARCH AND RESCUE COUNCIL, INC – is a non-profit corporation which coordinates six all-volunteer local search and rescue groups including SARA – Southern Arizona Rescue Association – SARA is an incredible organization that trains volunteers and participates in search and rescue missions in Southern Arizona including the Santa Catalina Mountains.