TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - After two months of being closed, Catalina State Park is set to open to the public on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Weather permitting, their gates will be open at 6 a.m., but the park will look a little different after the fire, and pose some hazards.
According to Park Manager Steven Haas, approximately 25-30 percent of the park burned. The downed trees and burnt brush are a reminder of the Bighorn Fire that tore through parts of the park.
Despite the threat of flames being gone, flooding has replaced it. Roads near campsites may face flash flooding, which could prohibit campers from leaving the park until flooding subsides.
If the Cañada Del Oro wash floods across the main park entrance road, this may prohibit campers and day use visitors from entering or exiting the park until flooding subsides.
“Normally it’s just water and sand now you can see it’s very, very black,” said Haas.
It’s why Sunday is considered a soft opening if the weather cooperates. If it does, Haas said hikers should still be cautious of where they step.
“Again, as you can see it’s burnt. So be careful for downed wood, downed trees, branches, burnt branches.”
There are some new rules in place:
· Visitors will need to continue to follow hiking and COVID-19 safety measures. Masks are required in park buildings and social distancing should be maintained in the park, including maintaining groups of less than 10 people.
· The Romero Pools Trail and sections of the Sutherland Trail will be closed until November 1. These are U.S. Forest Service trails and will open at their discretion.
· Significant rain and weather events may require day to day decisions on remaining open. The fire caused significant runoff and debris that can be dangerous to staff and the public.
· Many areas of the park look different than they did previous to the Bighorn Fire. The burned areas host hazards such as fallen rocks, trees, debris, and potential flash flooding, and visitors enter these areas at their own risk.
· Ramada's and group sites remain closed.
· We encourage advance reservations for overnight camping and RV sites.
· Please maintain awareness of your surroundings and the weather when visiting the park.
They’re asking you to come prepared Sunday, for both what you’ll see and for the changes made for your safety.
“We really want to be cautious. We definitely want to open but we want to be cautious,” said Haas.