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Date of Stay: 1/20/21 Vehicle: Subaru Crosstrek w/ tow-behind popup
I was a bit wary of this campground due to lack of reviews, but after an unsuccessful attempt to camp at another campground close to Saguaro NP East, we decided to give this site a go - and I’m SO glad we did. This is the perfect BLM campground - very dispersed, quiet, and FREE!
We arrived on a Wednesday afternoon with only about two other groups there. Directions from the Dyrt are perfectly accurate, but the turn is a bit tricky to see, as it is a narrow dirt road surrounded by brush. You can actually turn left or right when prompted by directions, but we went right and drove about ¾ of a mile down (you’ll see a sign addressed to campers so you’ll know you’re in the right place). Road is mostly very flat but does have the occasional bump/washout, and there is no shortage of rocks. Had no problem in my vehicle w/ trailer.
I honestly don’t know how many “campsites” are here, as they seem to be scattered pretty randomly around. There are little side roads that branch off the main road as well, we went down one of those and found a quaint little spot with camper-made fire pit that isn’t visible to the main road. Because of this, I would highly recommend arriving to this spot during the day, as we would have never found our great spot had it been dark.
As for the spot itself, it isn’t the prettiest because it’s mostly desert brush and dirt, but the Saguaros most definitely make up for it. Our specific campsite is marked by a towering, twenty-foot high Saguaro that I love waking up to every morning. There is little to no shade, but during the winter, the sun is very welcome. As for wildlife, we’ve seen several coyotes and roadrunners but not much else, at least during the day.
Location of this site is optimal - about five minutes from a local mart with all essentials, and ten from a Speedway and Dollar General. About 35 minutes from Saguaro West/Mountain Park and the same into central Tucson. Overall, I highly recommend this site for any avid BLM camper who is accustomed to no amenities. This may be my favorite BLM site I’ve ever camped.
I thought the sites were all decent sized. Almost the entire campground is set up for RV's but most of the sites don't have anyone behind them and are spacious, so tents would be fine in those spots if you don't mind an RV a site over. The couple tent spots they have are okay. All 5 of them are right off of the road so they have more noise traffic. I think our spot in B2 was the most private and away from the road. The restrooms are clean. There's also a nice dishwashing sink. The location is ideal for exploring the west side (Tucson Mountain District) of Saguaro National Park. The stars here were great and I love the sound of the coyotes in the night.
Relatively easy access from main road for most any vehicle, just take it slow and watch for ruts, especially after a rain.
There are many cool places to pull off and camp, but stay on established open spaces, we saw little baby things trying to grow all over the place so don’t squash them. We arrived on a Wednesday, and it was peaceful and quiet and serene until that Friday, when a group of guffawing dude-bros took up camp across the road from us. Voices carry here, especially this type of voice. The ranger drove down Pipeline Rd in a truck to check on things several times, something I always appreciate.
You can hear road noise the closer you are to the main road (W Avra Valley Rd), especially trucks driving to and from the quarry, which can sound like thunder. Beautiful landscape, saguaros everywhere, beautiful sunrise and sunset, very peaceful despite the truck noise. If we had a rig that could make it in further we would have camped further away from the road to minimize the noise. Pretty regular traffic going in and out on Pipeline Rd, campers and ATVers.
Free range cattle also in the area.
Good verizon and AT&T service.
If you have to stay in an RV park, this is the one to stay in. It is absolutely not your typical RV park that feels like a parking lot with rows of RVs all side by side. This is a combo of an old timey motel, vintage trailers that are rented out on air bnb, a cool hangout area and pool with music playing and they have movies on some nights on the big screen in the pool area, and a couple of FHU(30 amp only) RV spots(for$35/night) Also saw camper vans there too. It’s right off the road so there are road noises, as well as noise from neighboring businesses and trains.
The owner Toni and her daughter have put so much time and energy into building this place, and their love of all things vintage shows. Toni will tell you the history of the trailers and busses on site, including a 1970’s rock n roll tour bus and a trailer that the Dead are said to have used for travel while on tour. Vintage electric car and a car called Wedge and looks as the name implies. There is one washer and one dryer available for use, as well as a bathtub/shower, kitchen, and a hangout room with TV, music, and a free table arcade game with multiple 80s video games to choose from.
The motel rooms are available for rent as well, though when we stayed there in our RV all the rooms were occupied by a film crew and the artist in residence. We asked about tent sites and the owner seemed willing to work with guests on that, though we didn’t see a good spot where tents would go.
There is also a chicken coop and a small garden! You may get lucky and get some fresh eggs in the morning.
I camped in H loop (first come, first serve) over the new year for several days. The Campground’s three loops were crowded and not much space between sites. H loop offered the best chance to snag a site with shrubbery for screening and I took #6 after two nights in #25 which had roadway on three sides so was noisy😕. There are flush toilets but no showers. Extensive hiking trails traverse the Tucson Mountains and into the Saguaro National Park for spectacular scenery. It’s all about the cactus. Just Incredible, amazing and awesome all at once.
This was an amazing place in every way . . . except one which is very important to us personally. We stayed for a couple of nights in December 2020, when COVID rates were skyrocketing everywhere & especially Arizona. We had just come from a KOA in New Mexico which had 100% mask compliance throughout the campground. Here, despite the infection rates there was zero mask compliance amongst campers anywhere in the campground. The staff wore masks and we watched them diligently clean campsite furniture after campers checked out. But, nothing was done to encourage compliance from campers. In NM there were signs everywhere. Here, however, they were actively encouraging campers to gather at group (super spreader) activities. Seriously? Over 300,000 dead and they go on to host a full slate of weekly KOA sponsored activities and pancake breakfast like nothing is happening? The pool area was full of unmasked people. No one wore a mask in the restroom or laundry. There were constant, yelling unmasked kids running through our site. Four adult males gathered on one site openly heckled my wife for wearing a mask while she walked our dog. It was callous, very disappointed.
Justin's Diamond J doesn't allow credit card payment and doesn't have online reservations. It's adult only and had a bunch of restrictions. No use of washers/dryers in RVs, no streaming/skyping, no electric heaters. Breed restrictions on pets. See photo for brochure. There are pickleball/tennis courts, a dog area, horse shoes and bocce ball. Sites are full hookup. Premium sites offer better views and have more privacy.
There are multiple entrances along Old Ajo and S San Joaquin. The best we found has 2 large dips. Some have quite a few more or really deep ones. If coming in with a lower ground clearance vehicle, or a longer one that may bottom out you might want to scout them out first. Once inside the camping area there are lots of spots to choose from. The smaller and more nimble the vehicle gives more choices. There is a mix of local transients, that sleep in tents and small RVs as well as travelers. These sites offer a good amount of privacy from the hwy and roads but depending on the site within there may not be much privacy. Further east on Old Ajo just east of S Camino Verde is another site that travelers with larger rigs seen to prefer. However, there isn't much privacy at all from neighbors, hwy 86 or Old Ajo. Access is flatter though. No water, electricity, or dump. For $15 you can dump and fill at right on San Joaquin at Justin's RV park or there are free options in town (20 minute drive). Signs day 14 day stay. It doesn't appear to be currently enforced but a BLM official does drive through occasionally. We didn't see him stop to speak to any campers.
There are multiple entrances along Old Ajo and S San Joaquin. The best we found has 2 large dips. Some have quite a few more or really deep ones. If coming in with a lower ground clearance vehicle, or a longer one that may bottom out you might want to scout them out first. Once inside the camping area there are lots of spots to choose from. The smaller and more nimble the vehicle gives more choices. There is a mix of local transients, that sleep in tents and small RVs as well as travelers. These sites offer a good amount of privacy from the hwy and roads but depending on the site within there may not be much privacy. Further east on Old Ajo just east of S Camino Verde is another site that travelers with larger rigs seen to prefer. However, there isn't much privacy at all from neighbors, hwy 86 or Old Ajo. Access is flatter though. No water, electricity, or dump. For $15 you can dump & fill at right on San Joaquin at Justin's RV park or there are free options in town (20 minute drive). Signs day 14 day stay. It doesn't appear to be currently enforced but a BLM official does drive through occasionally. We didn't see him stop to speak to any campers.
3 mile groomed walking path. Laundry on-site is only $1.
Situated in an unique natural setting close to the Anza Trail along the Santa Cruz River. Serene and peaceful yet only 1/2 mile walk to historic village of Tubac where art and history meet.