Flag Day, Put Your Flag Out

Catalina State Park: The Jewel of Oro Valley

We Arizonans are blinded to the magnificence of our home. Our eyes pass over the fields of dead grass and cacti, across mountain ridges, and tanned peaks. We don’t realize how beautiful the desert is because we’ve become acclimated to it over the years, and we’ve been trained to feel a certain way about it. It’s dangerous, brittle, and far too hot.

We often hear about javelinas, coyotes, and deadly rattlesnakes–spiders with venom that could topple an elephant. But there is something here, and if we’re willing to change our perspective, we can bask in it.

Catalina State Park has that effect on desert folk. It allows us to see our old landscape with the fresh eyes of an outsider, exploring dusty trails, camping out beneath the stars–always pushing forward, always driven by a spirit of discovery.

The 5,500 hundred acre park is located at the western edge of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Oro Valley. It’s believed to have been occupied since 5,000 BCE by the Hohokam people. Today, it’s a dusty playground, where hikers, campers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders congregate to get a taste of the sun and sand.

The park is a haven for wildlife, including rare species of reptiles, birds, and mammals. Bird-watching is particularly popular, and it’s known as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by the Audobon Society.

It’s a place for casual day trips, short strolls, or overnight vacations. You can turn it into an adventure, or have a quiet afternoon. Either way, you’ll leave with an appreciation for desert life and the beautiful vistas that come with it.