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8 Amazing Things to do in Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park Guide

Saguaro National Park is known as for the Saguaro cactus, which grows only in the Sonoran Desert. This is a simple park to go to, with scenic drives and brief walks among the many towering cacti. A half day is all you want to see the highlights, however with extra time you’ll be able to tour all the park, go on a day hike, or camp in the backcountry.

About Saguaro National Park

The park is situated in southern Arizona close to Tucson. This park protects the Saguaro cactus on a tract of land by means of the Sonoran Desert.

There are two separate sections to the park.

The japanese section, also referred to as the Rincon Mountain District, has a lower concentration of cacti. Nevertheless, the Rincon Mountains type a pleasant backdrop for images. This is additionally the only place to camp inside the park and it gives miles of backcountry trails, good for many who need to depart the crowds behind.

The western section, also referred to as the Tucson Mountain District, has a denser population of cacti. That is the more fashionable part of the park so anticipate to share the trails and roads with more individuals here.

To get between these two sections of the park, it’s a one hour drive by means of the town of Tucson.

Saguaro Map

Saguaro National Park formally turned a national park in 1994.

Many individuals mispronounce “Saguaro.” We did too, before our visit. Saguaro is pronounced “sa-WAH-roh.”

Saguaro National Park Sign

Cool Information concerning the Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus is the most important cactus in america.

Saguaros can reside up to 200 years (although some sources state that they will stay even longer than this). They develop at a very sluggish price, solely an inch per yr. A 10 yr previous plant might only be 2 inches tall.

Many, however not all, of the Saguaros grow arms.

The Saguaro cactus flowers from mid-Might via early June. Throughout our go to on June 12, all the cacti had already completed blooming.

The inside of the cactus is manufactured from picket ribs which resembles a tree trunk. Rising over these ribs is the green, fleshy pores and skin that absorbs and stores water. The cacti take in gallons and gallons of water in the summer time monsoon season and use this stored water throughout the rest of the yr.

Greatest Things to do in Saguaro National Park

Listed here are the perfect things to do in Saguaro National Park, organized by location.

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Saguaro West (Tucson Mountain District)

The Bajada Loop Drive

The Bajada Loop drive is a 6-mile graded filth street. The street is well-maintained and is suitable for automobiles. We drove a Toyota Camry and had no points on this street.

Bajada Loop Drive

Two roads type the Bajada Loop Drive: Hohokam Street and Golden Gate Street.

There are a number of notable viewpoints alongside the best way, which I’ll get to in just a minute. However first you want to know which method to drive the loop in order to keep away from backtracking.

A part of the Bajada Loop Drive is a method solely (the second half of Hohokam Street). In order to drive it as a loop, you want to drive counterclockwise.

To start out the drive, turn right from N Kinney Street onto Hohokam Street. Hohokam Street ends at Golden Gate Street. To finish the loop, flip left onto Golden Gate Street after which drive until it ends at N Sandario Street.

A lot of the street is large sufficient for 2 automobiles to move. The only place that is slender is the second half of Hohokam Street, which is why it is one-way right here.

Necessary! Flash floods and rain could make this street impassable, even in case you have a 4×four. If it has rained, or if rainfall is in the forecast, verify circumstances on the national park web site or at the visitor middle to see if the street is open.

Valley View Overlook Trail

Distance: zero.8 miles round trip
Location: Bajada Loop Drive, Hohokam Street

On this brief, straightforward strolling path, rise up close to the Saguaro cactus, prickly pears, and ironwood timber. Continue to the top of the path for an awesome viewpoint of the park.

This was certainly one of our favorite walks in the park since we walked by means of one of the densest populations of cacti. Plus, it’s flat and straightforward and great for all ages.

Saguaro National Park

Julie in Saguaro

Signal Hill Petroglyphs

Distance: zero.5 miles spherical journey
Location: Sign Hill Picnic Space on the Bajada Loop Drive

On this brief trail you will walk uphill to a nice little viewpoint over the park.

Along the best way, and on the rocks on prime of the hill, you get to see the rock art, or petroglyphs, drawn by the Hohokam individuals over 800 years ago.

Signal Hill Petroglyphs

Hike Saguaro

Pro Travel Tip: Watch out for rattlesnakes, gila monsters, and scorpions. All the time look earlier than you step and keep on the trail. Never put your palms or ft underneath rocks or in hidden locations. We never noticed a wild rattlesnake inside the park, however one did slither throughout the sidewalk at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Desert Discovery Nature Path

Distance: 0.5 miles
Location: N Kinney Street

This can be a self-guided nature path, with a lot of informative signs concerning the Saguaro cactus and the desert ecosystem. It’s straightforward to walk, instructional, and nice for all ages.

Tim in Saguaro

Best Things to do in Saguaro

Young Saguaro Cactus

Hike to Wassen Peak

For an enormous adventure, hike to the top of Wassen Peak. It is roughly 8 miles round journey and is rated as strenuous, but you’ll get probably the greatest views of the park.

This was excessive on our listing do to however we skipped it due to excessive temperatures in the park.

There are several methods to get to the highest of Wassen Peak. The best way we deliberate to do it was to start on the Sendero Esperanza Trail. This path intersects the Hugh Norris Path. Flip left on the Hugh Norris Trail (head east) and take this to the top of Wassen Peak.

There are quite a few other mountaineering trails in Saguaro National Park to select from however that is the one which stood out probably the most to us. You’ll be able to see the complete record here.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

This is not part of the national park but if you need to study extra concerning the desert ecosystem, this can be a excellent spot to visit. That is more of a zoo than a museum, with animal reveals, an aquarium, and botanical gardens, and it also has a natural historical past museum.

It will be very straightforward to spend no less than half of a day right here, to tour your complete property.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

While walking by way of the museum, a wild rattlesnake slithered across the sidewalk right in entrance of me. You really have to watch the place you step because if I hadn’t been paying consideration, I might have stepped proper on this little guy. He slid off into the rocks and brush and I acquired one last photograph before he disappeared. What a colorful tail!


Rattlesnake Tail

Value: $21.95, youngsters three to 12 are $8.95
Hours: Open every day, hours range by season. 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, open earlier in the summer time with prolonged hours on Saturday.
Website: Visit the official web site for updated pricing and a full listing of their hours of operation.

Saguaro East (Rincon Mountain District)

This part of the park is smaller and fewer visited the Saguaro West. Nevertheless, when you have the time, it’s nonetheless well worth the visit. And in the event you like the thought of backcountry tenting, this is the place to do it (overnight tenting shouldn’t be permitted in Saguaro West).

Saguaro East

Cactus Forest Drive

That is an 8-mile loop by means of Saguaro East. It’s one-way only, beginning and ending on the customer middle. It is a paved street with plenty of pull-outs and viewpoints along the best way.

Listed here are some things to do alongside the drive:

Desert Ecology Path: brief strolling trail comparable to the Desert Discovery Nature Trail in Saguaro West.

Javelina Rocks Overlook: climb up on prime of the rocks for a view over Saguaro National Park and Tucson.

Cactus Forest Loop

Saguaro Cactus


Good warning signal. 🙂

Hike in Saguaro East

There a whole lot of miles of trails in Saguaro East, ranging from brief, straightforward walks to multi-day backpacking trips.

Probably the most simply accessible trail is the Mica View Path. This 2-mile spherical journey trail is flat and straightforward to stroll. Along the best way, you’ll rise up shut to big Saguaro cacti and have good views of the Rincon Mountains and Tucson. We saw roadrunners and different wildlife right from the path.

Saguaro Road

Access street to the Mica View picnic space.

Saguaro Arizona

Mica View Path

Mica Trail Saguaro

Mica View Trail

To study more about mountaineering Saguaro East, go to the nationwide park web site.

Plan Your Visit

Value: $20 per car. This is good for 7 days and consists of each sections of the park.

Hours: The Tucson Mountain District (Saguaro West) is open from sunrise to sunset. The Rincon Mountain District (Saguaro East) opens at 7 am and closes at sundown. You possibly can walk or bike into the park 24 hours a day.

Present Circumstances: Go to the Saguaro National Park official website for current circumstances in the park.

Planning Your Time

Someday is all you need to visit Saguaro National Park, until you propose to go camping in the backcountry.

In case you only have half of a day, we advocate visiting Saguaro West. With the denser inhabitants of cacti, we thought that this section of the park was more spectacular. Drive the Bajada Loop drive and hike to Valley View Overlook and Sign Hill and do the Desert Discovery Walk.

For those who like the thought of mountaineering, contemplate the hike to Wassen Peak. Or, walk a piece of the Hugh Norris Path or the Sendero Esperanza Trail.

In case you are touring with youngsters, a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is worth it, so long as you’ve several hours to spend right here to make it value the fee.

With a full day, you possibly can visit both East and West Saguaro.

What We Did:

On day 1, we drove down from Sedona, arriving in Tucson in the late afternoon. We spent several hours in Saguaro East and then checked into our lodge in Tucson.

On day 2, we visited Saguaro West, getting an early start to keep away from the recent noon temperatures. However it was nonetheless extremely scorching in June, hitting 95°F by 8:30 am. In the afternoon, we drove again to Phoenix.

When to Go

June and July are the most well liked months to go to. It’s commonplace for top temperatures to prime out over 100+ degrees throughout these months. In mid-June, monsoon season begins. Afternoon thunderstorms deliver much needed rain and assist to cool off the world, no less than a bit bit. Monsoon season sometimes lasts by means of September.

We visited the park on June 12 and the excessive temperature hit 107°F.

Peak season for the park is January by means of March, when temperatures are nice (with high temperatures in the 60’s) and rainfall is low. November and December are additionally a very nice time to visit, but anticipate bigger crowds round Christmas and New Yr’s Eve.

June by means of September receives the bottom number of visitors.

How to Get Here

Listed here are driving distances and occasions from close by destinations:

  • Phoenix, Arizona: 115 miles, 1.75 hours
  • Sedona, Arizona: 230 miles, 3.5 hours
  • El Paso, Texas: 320 miles, 4.5 hours

Where to Keep

There are not any lodging inside Saguaro National Park, until you propose to camp in Saguaro East. To do this, you will have a permit. Study more on the official national park website.

There are numerous locations to choose from in Tucson, with an abundance of chain motels like Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, and so forth. Listed here are a couple of recommendations with extra character, based mostly on price range and facilities.

Upscale: JW Marriott Tucson Starr Cross Resort and Spa. If you need a resort with swimming swimming pools, restaurants, and outside actions, and an in depth location to Saguaro West, this is the place to keep.

That is where we stayed. We chose this lodge for its location and great critiques. It was our 20th wedding ceremony anniversary and we acquired upgraded to the Presidential Suite. It was an unimaginable shock! The employees knew nothing about our journey blog (and we all the time guide and pay for our lodge stays), so our improve had nothing to do with operating this website.

In case you are touring with youngsters, this place is nice. There are a number of pools, a lazy river, and cornhole, so there’s quite a bit to hold youngsters busy and glad.

Marriott Tucson

Mid-Range: Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. Situated 1 mile north of Saguaro East, you’ll be able to keep on an actual ranch. Go horseback driving, mountaineering, and fishing, all from this property.

Price range: Lodge McCoy. This lodge has a useful location just off of Route 10. From here it’s a 30-minute drive to both Saguaro West and Saguaro East. The property has a pool and provides beer, wine, and occasional that are all produced in Arizona.

In case you have any questions on Saguaro National Park or if you’d like to share your expertise, remark under!

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Saguaro National Park Guide

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