Explore Arizona’s Sky Islands From Our Nearby Campgrounds

May 1, 2023

PHOENIX –  Visit four state park campgrounds near Arizona’s Madrean Sky Islands for a full gamut of adventure potential! These isolated “island” mountain ranges stand tall among a sea of surrounding desert and Arizona’s state parks keep you close to the adventure.

Begin your day at a state park in the Sonoran or Chihuahuan Desert like Lost Dutchman, Catalina, or Picacho Peak, or Roper Lake state parks, and within an hour you could be exploring the cooler temperatures in mixed conifer and sub-alpine type habitats high in the nearby mountains. Your cabin or campsite will be waiting for you at the park after your day of exploring. Rest, refresh, and repeat! 

Because of their close proximity to Tucson, the Santa Catalina Mountains are arguably the most well-known sky island mountain range. You can access a large network of trails right from Catalina State Park that leads into the National Forest lands high within the range.

Southeast of the Catalinas, the Whetstone Mountains, near Benson, conceal more than one of the world’s most notable caves at Kartchner Caverns State Park. You’ll find quick and easy access to hiking trails from the park, and a variety of off-highway experiences nearby, just outside the park. 

Mt. Graham at 10,724 feet is the focal point of the Pinaleño Mountain range near Safford, and the fourth highest peak in Arizona by elevation. A short 10-minute drive from Roper Lake State Park via state route 366 leads to sky island adventure. You’ll be amazed by how quickly you’re in the pines and cooler weather! 

Patagonia Lake State Park provides close access to motorized and non-motorized trails for anyone that wants to explore the heights of Mount Wrightson and the Santa Rita Mountains. You’ll find world-renowned birding throughout the area and within the park itself.  

Arizona's state parks are your gateway to a sky island adventure. Choose a mountain range, grab a campsite, and start exploring! 


Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.

For information about the more than 30 Arizona State Parks and Natural Areas, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.

PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (480) 589-8877- Email: pio@azstateparks.gov