Best Of Tucson®

Best Campground

Rose Canyon

Play it again, Sam. The same actors keep showing up for the annual awards ceremony, and this year, Rose Canyon has the opportunity to place another trophy on its mountainside mantel. As many as 50,000 visitors stop at Rose Canyon Lake and its adjacent campsites each year despite the entire complex being hammered by wildfires and storm runoff in the recent past. Concrete picnic tables and cookout grills are nestled among the pines near Milepost 17, above another tourist attraction, the Windy Point lookout on Catalina Highway. Rose Canyon offers outdoor enthusiasts a chance to not only catch supper, but to cook and consume it in a wooded setting before retiring for the night. There is a fee for picnicking, camping or fishing at the lake and campground, so visitors there do not need to purchase a Catalina Mountains pass if they're planning to stay at Rose Canyon only. While the camping spots have been around for some time, the lake (built in 1956) has been refurbished. Subject to heavy storm runoff, it was drained in the fall of 2001, and nearly 2,000 dump-truck loads of silt were removed. In spring 2003, a handicapped-accessible fishing pier was installed.

Runners up:

2. Mount Lemmon

3. Madera Canyon