Catalina Highway, Mile 17
READERS' PICK: This seven-acre recreational fishing lake stocked with rainbow trout is the only body of water in the Santa Catalina district, making it a popular watering hole indeed for desert denizens. While there's no camping on the lake itself (which, anyway, would require pontoons or a filial relationship to God), there is a nearby Rose Canyon campground and picnic area with stone tables, fire grills, restrooms and drinking water. There's even a little amphitheater for late-night star gazing. Open April through October, Rose Canyon Lake is about 7,000 feet up between mile markers 17 and 18.
LOOSE CHANGE: Parker Canyon Lake, Sonoita. Contrary to popular belief, Mt. Lemmon is not the only place to get away from it all for a night or weekend of camping. At 5,000 feet, good old Parker Canyon Lake, located south of Tucson and just southwest of the town of Sonoita, is a nice alternative to the Mt. Lemmon crowd. PCL features water, toilet and grill facilities for the many available camping spots. All are a short walk down to the lake. In years with little rainfall, the lake is a bit low and murky, but even then is open for swimming and fishing. So if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, be different and go south, not north. And don't forget to bring the bug repellent.