Rincon Mountain Backcountry Camping Brochure Information

From cactus-covered desert to pine-cloaked mountain heights, the Saguaro Wilderness Area in the Rincon Mountains protects the last roadless ‘sky island’ mountain range in Southern Arizona. Designated by Congress in 1976 – along with lands in the Tucson Mountains – this Wilderness Area provides another layer of protection to your Saguaro National Park. Together with the adjacent Rincon Mountain Wilderness on the Coronado National Forest, the protected wild acreage totals nearly 100,000 acres within sight of the sprawling city of Tucson. Solitude awaits you on these cool, forested slopes.

Know Before You Go

Permits are required for overnight stays. See contacts below.

Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day – more in low country in summer. Treat all surface water. Water is scarce at all times at most campsites.

Campfires are prohibited at Douglas Spring and Grass Shack camps. Use only dead and downed wood and be sure fires are cold and dead before leaving.

Respect the weather in all seasons; it can change without warning. The high country will be far different from the low!

Do not cross flooded streams. Wait until the flow subsides.

Be cautious of wildlife. Know what to do if you encounter bees, bears, or mountain lions.

Wear appropriate clothing (in layers) and footwear. Pace yourself according to your physical condition.

Cellular phones work in much of the wilderness; if not, try a high point with a view toward Tucson (west) or Benson (east).

Do not leave valuables in vehicles, lock securely.

Campsite Information

*Maximum 6 people per site at all camps
Douglas Spring
Number of sites: 3
Elevation: 4,800 ft
Trip: Minimum 6 mile hike and 2,000 foot climb
Nearest Trailhead: Douglas Spring (east end of Speedway Blvd)
Bio: Located on a flat area in the desert grasslands under scattered juniper trees, the view is dominated by Mica Mountain. A nearby streambed sometimes has water – search upstream for small pools.

Juniper Basin
Number of sites: 3
Elevation: 6,000 ft
Trip: Minimum 7 mile hike and 3,000 foot climb
Nearest Trailhead: Tanque Verde Ridge (off park drive at Javelina Picnic Area)*
Bio: In the desert grasslands high on Tanque Verde Ridge the climb into this juniper stand has 360 degree views of the Sonoran Desert. Summit is two miles beyond the campsite.

Grass Shack
Number of sites: 3
Elevation: 5,300 ft
Trip: Minimum 10 mile hike and 2,250 foot climb
Nearest Trailhead: Loma Alta (north end of Camino Loma Alta), often reached from the Arizona trail entrance on south park boundary (9.5 mile hike)
Bio: You’ll be near a stream in a lush forest setting of oak, sycamore, and madrone – IF the stream is running. Some fairly reliable pools might be found upstream. Popular Arizona Trail camp!

Happy Valley Saddle
Number of sites: 3
Elevation: 6,200 ft
Trip: Minimum 4 mile hike and 2,000 foot climb
Nearest Trailhead: Miller Creek (on Mescal Road/FS Rte 35, 16 m. from I-10 Exit 297) a rugged dirt road, deep water crossings possible, high clearance 4WD recommended.
Bio: Dry site in a pine woodland on the lower flanks of Rincon Peak – peak baggers use this camp overnight. Tough to find water nearby; pack it in. Watch for hazard dead trees in area.

Spud Rock
Number of sites: 3
Elevation: 7,400 ft
Trip: Minimum 5.5 mile hike and 2,700 foot climb
Nearest Trailhead: Turkey Creek (on Mescal Road/FS Rte 35 & FS Rte 4408) rugged dirt roads, deep water crossings possible, high clearance 4WD recommended.
Bio: **Without 4WD, high clearance vehicle, add 1.6 miles to hike. Wooded site near a historic potato field, not near Spud Rock. Rugged climb is only stock access from the east slope.

Manning Camp
Number of sites: 6
Elevation: 8,000 ft
Trip: Minimum 13 mile hike and 5,300 foot climb
Nearest Trailhead: Douglas Spring (east end of Speedway Boulevard) Alternate is Italian Springs/Arizona Trail north, 9.6 miles up gravel part of Redington Pass Road. (11 mile hike)
Bio: In the ponderosa pine forest near the historic Manning Cabin and summer ranger station. Reliable water year-round except in the very driest years. Snow-covered in the winter!

* Trailheads are open 24 hours except Tanque Verde Ridge, open during park drive hours (varies seasonally)

Overnight Camping Registration and Permits: www.recreation.gov 1-877-444-6777

Other Considerations

Wilderness Regulations:
No fires at Douglas Spring & Grass Shack campgrounds.
Use only dead & downed wood for campfires.
Don’t leave a campfire until it is fully out.
No bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed.
Hiking off trail only allowed above 4,500’ elevation.
Pets are prohibited; trained, working service dogs allowed.
Users under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
Firearms may be carried, but not discharged in the park.
Camp only in campsites and only on the dates assigned.
Uses outhouses at campsites; do not put trash in toilets.
Away from camp, bury human waste 150’ from trail or water.
Everything else you carry in, you should carry back out.
Length of stay limited to 10 days; only 5 days in any one camp.
The group size limit is 18 for people; 10 for livestock.
Livestock in Saguaro National Park is defined as mules, horses, and burros only. No other riding or pack animals. Grazing is prohibited. Bring in and use weed free pellets. Remove and scatter droppings in camp areas. Be aware of and courteous to other users.
Stock are prohibited on some trails because of steepness or conflicting uses. Consult the park’s free hiking map for details. Maximum head at Manning camp is 10; at all other camps 5. Consult our livestock use brochure for much more information on stock use.
Winter rains fall from December to March. Rain is light and gentle, but it may extend for hours and be widely distributed. During this time snow will fall above 6,000’ feet. Summer rains come in July to September. Rain can be intense and heavy, in concentrated areas. Lightning, hail, and flash flooding are common – keep close watch on local forecasts.
Leave No Trace
Plan ahead and prepare
Pack it in, pack it out
Properly dispose of what you can’t pack out
Leave what you find
Minimize use & impact of fires
Camp and travel on durable surfaces
Protect and conserve water resources

Last updated: April 12, 2022

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3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson , AZ 85730


520 733-5153

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