Phoenix With Kids

Rose Canyon Campground near Tucson

Abbey Bailey

Camping at Rose Canyon Campground near Tucson is a great way to beat the summer heat. Located just a little over an hour from Tucson the campground sits at over 7,000 feet in elevation, which means the temperatures are much cooler! We camped, explored Rose Canyon Lake, and hiked around the beautiful, wooded area.

It’s easy to get to this campground with accessible roads the entire way. The lake is a short hike on-foot from the campground, mostly on paved roads. If needed, there is also a special access road that leads to a handicap-accessible parking lot closer to the lake. A restroom is available at the lake parking lot.

Rose Canyon Lake

While no swimming or boating is permitted in this small lake, it is stocked with trout! Although we didn’t have luck catching any, it was a fun family activity! A 6-acre lake, Rose Canyon Lake is small but beautifully surrounded by pines and oak trees. With a campground reservation, access to the lake is free (otherwise $10 for day use) and is located at the end of the campground. There’s also a small campground store located next to the lake parking lot that sells camping supplies, a small selection of food, ice, fire wood, and fishing supplies (including fishing licenses, which are required for those over 10 years of age). The store has limited seasonal hours, so if you’d like to visit be sure to check the hours upon arriving to the campground.

Campsites

The campground is typically open from April to October and closed for the winter. Of the 73 campsites in this large campground, half can be reserved on the Forest Service website or at Recreation.gov. The remaining sites are available on a first come first serve basis. In order to access some of the camping sites, you may have a short hike in. When booking the campsite you can check in the ‘Site Details’ for the hike in distance.

Our campsite was spacious, with a picnic table, fire ring, grill, and bear box. Most campsites seem rather well spaced since this is a large campground. Vault toilets and a water pump were just a short walk from our site. We were also excited to bring our puppy on her first camping trip as pets are allowed as long as they are kept on leash. We spent the days making yummy food and exploring the campground and we enjoyed the cooler nights around the campfire. Even during the summer nighttime temperatures can get down to 45-50º so you’ll want a jacket or warm blanket for the mornings/evenings.

Top of the Mountain

Have you visited Summerhaven, near the top of Mount Lemmon? The campground is just 15-20 minutes from the small town near the top of the mountain, so it’s a worthwhile drive if you’re staying at Rose Canyon. There’s basically one road through town with a few fun shops and restaurants before you reach the end of the road at Marshall Gulch (another great area for hiking!). There’s a great General Store here that has a wider selection than the Campground Store, plus an impressive spread of fudge!

Getting There

Driving to Mount Lemmon is relatively easy. Here’s a Google Map of Rose Canyon Campground’s location. From Grant Rd. in Tucson, you simply take a left on Tanque Verde Rd. followed by a left onto Catalina Highway. The campground is located between mile markers 17 and 18 off the Catalina Highway.

Whether you’re looking to escape the heat for just the day or to camp for several days, Mount Lemmon is a great retreat and a worthwhile short drive from Tucson. Find more information about Rose Canyon Campground and Lake at the Forest Service’s Website or at Recreation.gov. The Santa Catalina Ranger District can also be a great source for answering questions or checking to see if the campground is open as the weather begins to cool around October and their phone number is 520-749-8700.

  • Abbey Bailey

    Abbey is a mom of two children and lives in Oro Valley with her husband, Tyler. A long-time travel lover, she loves exploring as a family and talking with her kids about their experiences. Abbey loves reading, writing, and Sunday mornings spent in bed. Follow @abbeyjowriter on Instagram where she writes about motherhood, neurodiversity, and mental health.

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