Romero Pools is a short hike that starts at the Romero Canyon Trailhead in Catalina State Park, northeast of Tucson, Arizona. The hike takes you to a beautiful desert oasis set in a canyon with water that flows most, if not all of the year. On the ascent, hikers are treated to breathtaking views of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
- Distance: 6.2 miles out and back
- Hike Time: 3 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1217 feet
- Fee: Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00 | Individual/bicycle: $3.00
- Dogs: No
- Difficulty: Moderate. Trail is steep and in the sun for most of the day
Romero Pools offers hikers the chance to cool off on a hot day with a refreshing swim in a gorgeous canyon. As a result, it is the most popular hike in Catalina State Park. If you arrive and the first pools feel a bit crowded, just continue up the wash. You are sure to find a serene location to take a dip.
The hike starts at Romero Canyon Trailhead, where it crosses a sandy wash and continues on a wide footpath. Once you reach the first junction, bear right to stay on course for the pools. At this point, the trail narrows and begins its ascent up the ridge. No matter what your level of physical fitness is, you are sure to break a sweat on this climb. If you are out of shape, this could be gut wrenching but perseverance is well-rewarded.
I advise you start this hike as early as possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself chugging up the switchbacks in mid day sun. The elevation gain ought to get your heart rate up, but in the hottest part of the day you are asking for trouble.
During the monsoon months, heavy rainfall can fall on isolated portions of the Santa Catalina Mountains. From your vantage point, storm activity may not always be visible. Romero Canyon is a significant drainage and has the potential for flash flooding, so be cautious and look up the forecast before you go.
From Tucson, follow Speedway Boulevard east. After 0.3 miles, turn left on Main Avenue. Continue north. After 0.3 miles, Main Avenue turns into Oracle Road or SR 77. Continue for 13 miles then turn right at Catalina State Park. The hike begins at Romero Canyon Trailhead.
The park is open year round from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily.
Gear to Bring
Don’t show up underprepared for this one. People frequently have to get rescued from this canyon. The route is rugged and at water crossings, the rocks are slippery. Bring hiking shoes or sandals that provide good traction and trekking poles to help with stability.
- Water: There is no water on this trail until you reach the pools, so bring plenty. Before you drink water from this canyon, make sure to treat it.
- Best Time to Travel: September through May to avoid the hottest months. Otherwise, make sure to get an early start.
- Safety: Check for flash flood warnings and know the forecast before you go.