Saguaro National Park Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by blueskyjohn
  • Trail leading up from the King Canyon trail
    Trail leading up from the King Canyon...
    by blueskyjohn
  • Things to Do
    by blueskyjohn

Best Rated Things to Do in Saguaro National Park

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Cactus Garden Trail

    by Yaqui Written Sep 4, 2011

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    On the grounds of the visitor center is a wonderful area set aside to educate the public of all the beautiful array of plants that flourish in this area. I learn something new about the needles on a cactus. I thought it was only used to protect the plant, but in fact the needles serve to shade the plant from the sun. So many other facts you can learn here.

    One of the lovely plaques reads:Stroll along this short trail and discover some plants of the Sonoran Desert. Whether they have small, leathery leaves, needle-like spines, or thick skin, all the plants you will see have adaptive characteristics needed to conserve and store water.

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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Saguaro National Park

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 4, 2011

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    When we were looking for the way to the park, we saw a sign for the park and decided to take the adventure onto Golden Gate Road. Although it was a dirt road it was fun to see the Saguaro cactuses in its own natural habitat. So many wonderful shapes and sizes of the Saguaros. We kept seeing the doves that thrive around the Saguaros and so many of the cactuses had fruit growing on top. The road is not bad, but I would reconsider it if it ever rained. There are many wonderful trails and picnic areas to enjoy.

    If you keep following this road it takes you too Sandario Road which willl take you to Kinney Road and this is where the Red Hills Visitor Center. Off of Kinney Road you have access to Desert Discovery Nature Trail too.

    Here is a guide to Short Nature Walks

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    Red Hill Visitor Center

    by Yaqui Written Sep 4, 2011

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    Red Hills Visitor Center is located off of Kinney Road. It is a lovely center where you have access to restrooms, vending machine, a nature museum, gift store, garden and access to some wonderful trails. Although small, their cultural and natural history exhibit is wonderfully done. The gift store has lots of wonderful gifts to choose from.

    Saguaro West is open all year from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday except Christmas.

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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Butterfly Garden ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 4, 2011

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    Next to the Hummingbird Aviary is a garden designed to attract the butterflies. There were at least a dozen of them flying around. My youngest really enjoyed seeing them. A really neat sight.

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    Cave ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 29, 2011

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    Located just after the reptile exhibit is the "Cave". I will tell you it is a most welcome place to explore especially when it is so hot. In the cave has some wonderful exhibits in it and all very educational that includes the Geology of the valley, Mineral Collections, and sciences of the environment. You big and little ones will love exploring the cave.

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    Prarie Dog ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 4, 2011

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    These little guys were so entertaining and all the whole family enjoyed them. Prairie dogs are grassland squirrels. They eat vegetation, mostly grass, which is 70 - 90% of their diet. The Black-tailed prairie dogs do not hibernate, but may stay underground in bad weather. Prairie dog predators are eagles, hawks, bobcats, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and badgers.

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    Art ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum

    by Yaqui Updated Nov 9, 2012

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    One thing you may want to take note when visiting places like these according to the weather. You may not see too many of the animals since it is so hot. I suggest you come just before dusk or when the weather cools down. Still, we did get to enjoy some of the animals, art, exhibits, and the beautiful gardens that surround the whole park..A+

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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Saguaro National Park East, My Favorite Side

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Mar 25, 2006

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    Saguaro National Park East

    The east section is at a higher elevation that Saguaro Park West, giving it a different environment. If you only have the time to visit one side of the National Park, I would recommend the East as I thought the vegetation was lusher, the scenic mountain views were beautiful, plus some of the taller saguaro cactus live in this district. Stop at the Visitor Center where you will find books, trail guides, a guide for the drive, postcards, exhibits and a slide show about the desert. There will be rangers present to answer your questions and give you advice. Then take the 8-mile Cactus Forest Drive which winds through the old growth saguaro "forest" allowing you to see some of the largest saguaro cacti in the park, as well a giving you a good view of the variety of plants growing in the Sonoran Desert. This is a paved, one-way road, starting on the left leg and looping around back to the beginning.

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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Lizard Enclosure - Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum

    by Yaqui Written Sep 4, 2011

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    Right away before you even walk through the entrance to the museum, there is a wonderful lizard enclosure. We were lucky because one of the parks rangers was feeding the lizards so we were able to watch them gather for lunch.

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  • JanPeter74's Profile Photo

    Saguaro National Park - Where is everybody?

    by JanPeter74 Written Mar 23, 2004

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    Saguaro cactus

    Go see the Saguaro cacti in in Saguaro National Park near Tucson. What is nice, is that you have a big chance of meeting very few other people in this park, since it is just a tiny bit too far south for most standard travel routes, The standard two or three week southwest US tours hardly every go further south than Phoenix.

    It is quite a weird experience to see mountain slopes litterally filled with these green fellows.

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    Saguaro National Park - Petroglyphs

    by JanPeter74 Written Mar 23, 2004

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    Petroglyphs in Saguaro NP

    Apart from Saguaro cacti, the park is also home to some very nice petroglyphs. In the picture you can see some of these petroglyphs. Some animals to the left, a bit further to the right you can find some suns and at the far right of the picture you can see a circular figure.

    By the way, mind your steps; this is also a rattlesnake area. (un)Fortunately, we didn't see any of them.

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    night-blooming

    by richiecdisc Written May 27, 2009

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    catching some blooms early morning

    The flowers of the Saguaro are night-blooming so to get a good look at them, it's best to head out very early in the morning when they are still open. Once it warms, they start to close back up. Their nocturnal openings are perfect for pollination by bats who are drawn by the nectar and make reproduction possible in the self-incompatible flowers. They bloom in late April to May so we were well timed for their display.

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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Red Hill Visitor Center Plaza's

    by Yaqui Written Sep 4, 2011

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    The visitor centers are such a wealth of information and education. There are a couple of wonderful plazas with some really neat informational plaques. So please take the time to wonder around this lovely visitor center. My family is always turning around to keep track of me, because if something looks interesting I head that way.

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    Short Trails in Saguaro West

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Mar 13, 2004

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    Teddy Bear Cholla

    Located at the visitor’s center is the Cactus Garden Trail, which is a level, paved walkway that will guide you past a variety of desert plants. About a mile from the visitor center on the right side of the road you will find the Desert Discovery Nature Trail. This is an easy one-half mile, gently sloping loop at the foot of the mountains. Both these walks will take you through a variety of desert plans including ocotillos, mesquites, creosote bushes, prickly pears, teddybear chollas, chainfruit chollas, stahorn chollas, pencil cholloas (as you can see there are lots of different chollas!), barrel cactus, fishhook cactus, hedgehog cactus, palo verde trees, as well as the saguaro which the park is named for. And these are just a few of the plants you will see! Keep your eyes open for lizards and birds as you walk. We saw a few zebra-tailed lizards scurry across the ground in front of us.

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    Hiking in Saguaro East

    by KimberlyAnn Written Mar 14, 2004

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    Saguaro With Woodpecker Hole

    Several short hikes begin along the scenic Cactus Forest Loop Drive. It is fun to get out and walk among the giant cactus, some of these Saguaros being over 150 years old in this east section of the National Park. Watch for animal and bird signs as you go. Each spring woodpeckers will drill new holes in the sides of the cactus to use as nesting sites, with their old, abandoned holes be taken over by other birds as nesting sites. In the photo you can see one such woodpecker hole drilled into the side of a large Saguaro. An easy stop that fits any age hiker is the one-quarter mile paved Desert Ecology Trail where you will have a self-guided trail that is even accessible for wheel chairs. Another short hike along the Cactus Forest Loop Drive is the Freeman Homestead Nature Trail, which is a one-mile loop near the Javalina Picnic Area. Signs along the way will tell you about the area as well as homesteading in the desert during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since there are about 128 miles of trails that wind through Saguaro East, you can tailor your hiking to fit the length you desire, keeping with the shorter hikes along the drive, or venturing into the backcountry’s Rincon Mountain wilderness. I would recommend picking up the “Day Hiking Trails of the Rincon Mountain District” from the rangers at the Visitor Center. This is a free pamphlet that will give you a map of the many trails as well as their mileage. You can discuss with the ranger what type of hike you have in mind, and they will help you with your choices. Be aware if you plan to backpack in the wilderness, permits are required and camping is only allowed at designated sites. These permits as well as backcountry camping information are available at the visitor center.

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