Rising abruptly from the north part of Tucson, the Catalina Mountains are Tucson's premiere climbing destination. With 7000 feet of elevation gain, climbing opportunities abound all year round. And whether you are in the mood to clip bolts, plug cams on 1000 foot walls, or throw down a crash pad, the Catalinas have something for everyone.
Most of the climbing is accesses from Catalina Highway, and all these areas are typically referred to as "Mt. Lemmon", although not all are on Mt. Lemmon proper. Catalina Hwy winds 25 miles from the Tucson foothills, all the way to the summit of Mt. Lemmon. The climbing is as varied as the landscape, with both the rock and vegetation changing as you climb higher and higher up the mountains. The drive from bottom to top has been described as "driving from Mexico to Canada in one hour". At the bottom of the highway the scenery will be classic Sonoran Desert, with majestic saguaros standing guard above the city. Moving higher the saguaros disappear, and you notice more woody shrubs and small oak trees. Higher still, the woody shrubs and oaks cede their ground to tall pines, firs, and even aspens. The weather will be noticeably cooler, with the summit areas of Mt. Lemmon providing a nice respite from the summer heat.
Other Catalina bouldering areas are scattered around the base of the range as you move west towards I-10, and then north along Oracle Road, up to catalina State Park. Many of the canyons formed from the creeks draining down the mountain have big, gorgeous blocks of watered polished granite. On the northern end of the range, Linda Vista and the 50 Year Trail have plenty of boulders to keep climbers busy for a while.
I have divided up the Catalina climbing area by elevation. Clicking on any of the pictures or links to the right will help you navigate to the area of your choice.
Hairpin Turn, Molino Basin, Sabino Canyon, Ventana Canyon, Tanque Verde Falls, Finger Rock , Linda Vista, 50 Year Trail
Secret Gully, Peanut Boulders, Windy Point, Rose Canyon, Matterhorn, Jibba Jabba, Zschiesche Boulder
Wilderness of Rocks, Summit Boulders