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  • Recreational Access / Special Use Permits

    people hikingPermits are required for Group Use at Agua Caliente Park, access to Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, Empirita Ranch Access, and overnight parking at Pima County trailheads. Please fill out the request forms in the links below to request a permit. You may also call (520) 724-5000 or come in to the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation office at 3500 West River Road, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

    Permits are not issued on Saturdays, Sundays, or county holidays.

    A Group Use Permit is required for all functions with 20 or more guests. The maximum group size is 40 guests.

    Permits for commercial photographers to use Pima County Parks for photo shoot backdrops please see Commercial Film Permits tab. Under existing County Park Rule 1.020, all commercial activity on a county park must have the prior written permission of the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department.

    Research and Scientific Study: Activities that involve collecting of water, plants, animals; netting, banding or marking of wildlife, or access to restricted areas, is considered research or science study. Research and scientific studies must have prior permission from the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.
    Please call 520-724-5000.

    Request a Group Use Permit
    The Cienega Creek Natural Preserve is a 3,979-acre preserve established for the preservation and protection of the natural and scenic resources of the property. The preserve extends 12 miles in length from Colossal Cave Road on the northwest to the former corners of the Empirita Ranch on the southeast. A section of the creek within the preserve has been designated as a Unique Water of Arizona due, in part, to its excellent quality of water.

    The presence of water combined with riparian vegetation creates a wildlife habitat of very high value. The habitat supports a large and diverse population of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Birders regard Cienega Creek Preserve as an exceptional area for viewing opportunities. The preserve is managed with the objective of accommodating public use to the degree that such use will not result in degradation to the natural qualities of this special resource. Access is limited. Access permits are required and available at no fee.

    PCNRPR only issues permits Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Permits are issued within 2 business days of request.

    Request a hiking permit
    Permits for Empirita Ranch access allows up to 2 vehicles per permit. Permits will be issued for up to 5 consecutive days at a time; a maximum of 10 days per month unless demand requires shorter permit periods to allow more user access.

    PCNRPR only issues permits Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Permits are issued within 2 business days of request.

    Request an access permit
    Pima County-managed trailheads open at dawn and close at dusk, except as otherwise noted. Be aware that trailhead hours may vary according to location and managing agency. The following trailheads allow after hours parking with a permit: Bear Canyon, Campbell, El Camino del Cerro, Pima Canyon, Finger Rock, and Ventana Canyon. No after hours parking is allowed at the other Pima County trailheads. Trailhead parking permits are available at no cost.

    PCNRPR only issues permits Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Permits are issued within 2 business days of request.

    Request an overnight parking permit
    Under Pima County Park Rule, all commercial activities conducted on county park lands require prior authorization. For commercial photographers this requires submitting a filming permit application for authorization of the commercial activity. The photographer is responsible for getting the permit and not the person being photographed.

    There are two levels of permits

    For simple one photographer, short time sessions like student, family, or wedding photo shoots, team photo shoots or class projects, the Pima County Film Permit Short Form can be used and the Right of Entry permit will be issued by Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation for the appropriate park.

    If the film request is more of a full production involving multiple crew, specialty equipment, potential road, special effects, building or facility impact/closure, then you must start with the Pima County Film Permit Form and send it to the Risk Management Department as listed on the permit application. Risk Management will send the permit application on to the necessary county agencies (parks, transportation, health, sheriff’s office, etc.) to coordinate a response and issue a final county level permit. If the filming occurs on county park lands, a Right of Entry from Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation will be issued as well as part of the approval process.

    Photographers are encouraged to get the application forms in well in advance, at least 14 working days prior to photo shoot. Requests that come in with a shorter turn-around time can often not be accommodated.

    Individual non-commercial photography activities for personal use on the county park lands do not require a permit.

    At this time the photography permits are free of charge.
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    Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

    3500 W. River Road
    Tucson, AZ 85741

    (520) 724-5000


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