Catalina Foothills homes for sale

Catalina Foothills: All About Living on Tucson’s Northside

A helpful Catalina Foothills (North Tucson) guide for newcomers and native Tucsonans, alike. The Tucson Metro area consists of a whopping 9,189 square miles. This guide is to help you narrow down what area of Tucson you’d like to live in based on your lifestyle. Learn about the history of the area, about some of the popular neighborhoods, what amenities and services are located here, and search homes for sale in North Tucson. Your questions are welcome!

Top 5 Reasons to Live in North Tucson:

  • Views! You’ll find both mountain and city views here
  • Close to upscale shopping and restaurants
  • More natural desert than some other areas of town
  • Larger lots are often found here
  • Wide variety of housing types and styles

General Location:

North Tucson according to the Tucson Multiple Listing Service is defined as north of the Rillito River, west of Sabino Creek and Sabino Canyon, south of the Santa Catalina Mountain range and Ina Road, east of La Cholla Blvd. Zip codes for the north Tucson area are 85704, 85718, and 85750.

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Description of Catalina Foothills

Catalina Foothills on the north side of town, tends to be higher in elevation than the other areas of Tucson. Many homes in the area have either a mountain view or a city view, some of the lucky ones have both! Because of the beautiful setting, homes in the Catalina Foothills area are more expensive than other areas of Tucson. Multi-million dollar custom homes are common here.

Most homes in the Catalina Foothills are single family homes, many are on large parcels of land 3/4 of an acre or larger. In the 1970s and 1980s more affordable (but still upscale) townhomes and condos were developed in the area.

Newer homes tend to be built in established neighborhoods on lots that split from a larger parcel. Some neighborhoods are gated, while many are not. There’s a mixture of neighborhoods with HOAs and others without.

The major arterial roads tend to be sort of on a grid, however many of those roads meander a bit. The residential roads are more curvilinear and not grid-like at all.

Catalina Foothills History and Development

The Catalina Foothills area was first developed by John and Helen Murphey in the 1920s, with help of their architect Josias Joesler. Joesler was a master at creating romantic architecture that blended Spanish Colonial Revival style with the uniqueness of the Sonoran Desert. The homes in Catalina Foothills Estates were marketed to prominent families in the east searching for a part-time winter residence. With the combination of beautiful buildings sited on lovely saguaro studded lots, several decades later Joesler homes remain in high demand.

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Architecture of Catalina Foothills

Josias Joelser is the most well-known architect in Tucson and he designed many homes in the Catalina Foothills Estates for the Murpheys. These homes tend to be Spanish Colonial Revival style with a blend of burnt adobe, white stucco, and red tile roofs.

Catalina Foothills is home to 2 National Historic Districts: Catalina Foothills Estates Apartments and Catalina Townhouses. Both neighborhoods were developed by the Murpheys, but they were designed by architect Juan Worner Baz, who took over after Joesler’s untimely death in 1956.

In the 1950s and 1960s other home builders started building expansive ranch style homes out of burnt adobe or red brick with steel casement windows and a long low roofline. Territorial style burnt adobe homes was another common style in that era.

The 1970s and 80s brought more affordable townhomes and condos to the area. And in the 1990s to the present-time high-end custom homes reign supreme.

Homes in the area have been designed by a who’s who of local architects and builders including Josias Joelser, Tom Gist, Judith Chafee, Nicholas Sakellar, Kevin Howard, Rob Robinette, Rob Paulus, David Tyson, and many, many more.

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Popular North Tucson Neighborhoods

Hiker at Sabino Canyon
Hiker at Sabino Canyon

North Tucson Attractions and Amenities


A number of resorts are located in the Catalina Foothills including: Loews Ventana Canyon, Hacienda Del Sol Resort, and Westin La Paloma Resort. These resorts offer upscale dining, beautiful views, and golfing opportunities.


If you like to golf, there’s plenty available on several private courses in the Catalina Foothills. Here’s a few to check out: Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club, Skyline Country Club, and La Paloma Country Club.

Golf Course in the Catalina Foothills
Golf Course in the Catalina Foothills


Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon is along the eastern edge of the Foothills. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike for walking, hiking, picknicking, and biking in a beautiful location, often with running streams.

Areial view of Sabino Canyon tram road and phoneline hiking trail
Areial view of Sabino Canyon tram road and phoneline hiking trail


Plenty of hiking opportunities are located in the Catalina Foothills including many trails in Sabino Canyon, Pima Canyon Trail, Finger Rock Trail, and Pontatoc Canyon.

Hiking to Seven Falls in Sabino Canyon is a popular day hike with several water crossings
Hiking to Seven Falls in Sabino Canyon is a popular day hike with several water crossings

Public Parks

There are quite a few public parks located along the Rillito River at the south end of the Catalina Foothills. Brandi Fenton Memorial Park has several ball fields, walking paths, playgrounds, and a splash pad. George Mehl Family Foothills Park features a few baseball fields. Rillito Regional Park has several soccer fields. The Children’s Memorial Park is a small neighborhood park with a basketball court and a lot of grassy space to throw around a frisbee.

The Loop Multi-Use Path

The Loop runs along the banks of the Rillito River. It’s a popular car-free paved trail to bicycle, take a walk, or a jog. The loop connects several of the public parks mentioned above.


There are 3 popular high-end shopping/dining plazas in the Catalina Foothills: La Encantada, St Philip’s Plaza, and Casas Adobes Plaza. Other shopping centers with restaurants and services are located on prominent corners off of Oracle Road, Sunrise Drive, and River Road.

Area Healthcare and Hospitals

Northwest Medical Center is the closest hospital servicing the Catalina Foothills area in north Tucson.

North Tucson Schools

There are 3 school districts that service the residents of the north part of Tucson, depending on where a particular home is located: Tucson Unified, Catalina Foothills #16, and Amphitheater. Other options for schools include tuition-free charter schools. Several private schools are also available in the area.


DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is a wonderful gallery and museum to visit if you love southwestern art. It’s housed in a beautiful adobe building that’s been added to the National Register of Historic Places. It also has wonderful mountain views.

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun in Tucson
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun located in the Catalina Foothills area of Tucson

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