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There are lots of amazing hikes in the Tucson area, but some offer a little more reward than others. For example, you can take a hike in Arizona’s Catalina State Park and reach the refreshingly cool Romero Pools on a hot day. This is a perfect way to cool off in the desert, and the hike to get here is an adventure in and of itself!

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Refreshing water in the Romero Pools
Refreshing water in the Romero Pools

The Romero Canyon Trail is moderate in difficulty and an out-and-back trail that’s about 5.5 miles long. Start your hike at the trailhead parking lot, cross Sutherland Wash, and then begin your steep climb up to the pools. The first part of the trail is pretty easy, but it increases in difficulty after that.

A look down at the Romero Canyon Pools
A look down at the Romero Canyon Pools

The best time to hike this route is between September and May to avoid the hottest summer days. You’ll often see beautiful wildflowers along the trail. As with many aspects of nature, the condition of the pools varies based on the amount of rainfall that year and the season. At times, the pools are perfect to take a dip and go swimming. The water usually feels very cool, which is amazing on a hot day and after a challenging hike.

Romero Pools
Credit: Debbie
Romero Pools

The pools’ water levels may be lower at other times, but this adventure still offers beautiful views of the mountains and Tucson with excellent photo ops. If possible, plan your hike to the Romero Pools after a big rain so that they’re more filled with water and accommodating for swimming! Don’t stop when you first see the pools. Keep going a bit further to cross the stream and see even more pools that are often less crowded with other hikers.

Cacti at Catalina State Park
Cacti at Catalina State Park

There is a $7 entrance fee to enter Catalina State Park and access the Romero Pools. This state park is approximately 12 miles north of Tucson and along Highway 77. Dogs are not allowed on this trail, but you can go horseback riding here as an alternative to hiking. There are several other trails that start from the trailhead here as well if you have extra energy and want to explore the area a bit more. Pack a picnic lunch to kick off your hiking boots, soak your feet, and enjoy a tasty snack or meal by the pools. Also, make sure to pack plenty of drinking water for your hike and be prepared to see other hikers of all ages and skill levels on this popular hike.

Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park Information:
Address: 11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737
Phone Number:
(520) 628-5798
Official Website

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