Hike of the Week: Romero Pools near Tucson

Mare CzinarNovember 23, 2023
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Romero Pools, Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area, Tucson 

Hemmed in by the stony slopes of Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, Romero Canyon Trail switchbacks uphill through classic high-desert terrain, revealing amazing views at every turn.  

Beginning in Catalina State Park, the trek follows the sandy course of Sutherland Wash for one mile before leaving the park and taking on a craggy, steep ascent into the Coronado National Forest and Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area. At the three-mile point, the ocotillo, creosote and Palo verde-studded hillsides give way to an oasis of water holes called tinajas–rock pockets carved by running water. Scoured out of Precambrian rock imbedded with streaks of glimmering quartz, the Romero Pools foster a green zone of riparian plant life. 

  • LENGTH: 6 miles roundtrip to the pools and back
  • RATING: moderate 
  • ELEVATION: 2,700 – 3,600 feet (6,000 feet to Romero Pass)
  • BEST SEASON: October – April
  • FACILITIES: restrooms, camping, visitor center
  • FEE: $7 daily fee per vehicle
  • HOURS: 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas 

GETTING THERE:  

Catalina State Park, 11570 N. Oracle Rd., Tucson 

  • From Interstate 10 in Tucson, take exit 240 (Tangerine Road). Continue 13.5 miles to stoplight at Oracle Road go right (south) and follow the signs to the park entrance near milepost 81.
  • Once inside the park, follow the main road 1.5 miles to the Romero Canyon trailhead.  

Dogs are not allowed on the trail.