Saguaro National Park Travel Guide

  • Saguaro National Park
    by blueskyjohn
  • Saguaro National Park
    by blueskyjohn
  • Entrance to the West section
    Entrance to the West section
    by blueskyjohn

Saguaro National Park Highlights

  • Pro
    matcrazy1 profile photo

    matcrazy1 says…

     Cacti, strange plants and rare animals, restaurant :-) 

  • Con
    matcrazy1 profile photo

    matcrazy1 says…

     Heat (May - October) 

  • In a nutshell
    JanPeter74 profile photo

    JanPeter74 says…

     Get the Wild, Wild West feeling here 

Saguaro National Park Things to Do

  • Signal Hill Picnic Area

    Signal Hill is a picnic area off of Golden Gate Rd. There is a longer than average access road to the area. There are several cement picnic tables and stone structures that offer some shade. There is no camping here. Signal Hill is also the trail head for the Manville Trail and the Cactus Wren Trail.

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  • Desert Discovery Trail

    This is another interpretive trail just down the road from the visitor center in the west district. The entire trail is paved. It meanders for less than a 1/2 mile and is a loop walk. It is completely flat and very easy. There are rest points scattered along the way with seating and a trellis. Metal signs along the path tell of the cycle of desert...

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  • Sus Picnic Area

    Located in the west section of the park, Sus is a short distance off the road. Most of the picnic tables are completely exposed to the sun. There are two tables under some shelter but these are the only two. All picnic tables also has standing grill and there is one fireplace near the shelter with the two tables.

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Saguaro National Park Restaurants

  • Comfortable Settings

    We needed to get out of the sun for a while, so we ventured into here. We all got Ices and ice cream. I think after spending the whole day out in the sun, we deserved a treat. The cafe has a wonderful variety of selection of food to purchase. A little pricey. Yet, it was comfortable and clean.

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  • don't miss the monkey

    Nimbus was one of the great surprises on the brewpub search of a six-month trip around the United States. It wasn't in a super convenient location. Even if you were staying in Tuscon proper, it was on the outskirts and in an industrial area at that. We were camping in the Western region of Saguaro National Park, some twenty miles and forty minutes...

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  • OK mexican

    While visiting Arizona, we figured we could get some good Mexican food (as Mexico is not all that far away!) I had read some fantastic reviews of this resturant, one even touting it as "The best Mexican in Tuscon"....er, I wasn't that good. It wasn't terrible mind you, just a tad bland for my taste.We visted just after our trip around Saguaro...

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Saguaro National Park Nightlife

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    BEFORE  SUNSET

    by matcrazy1 Updated Sep 11, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hmm... Saguaro National Park is opened daily from sunrise to sunset. So, you are not allowed to enter there after sunset.

    But as I know most desert animals used to sleep at hot daytime and move, hunt, look for food at nigt (nocturnal animals). Some of them start to move just before sunset. It seems that our hours were NOT compatibile in Saguaro National Park :-(.

    It's interesting that I met most animals during my trip just around sunset hours. Hmm... I usually slept around sunrise hours (except in Las Vegas but there were, not only two-legged, human beings there on that time :-).

    Related to:
    • Desert
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

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Saguaro National Park Transportation

  • cook ya from the inside out

    Driving around the western US is something everyone should experience once. The wide open spaces, the elaborate and well sealed roads are a worry free road trip experience. When you barrel down a highway with no cars in sight and wide expanses of nature on both sides it's exhilarating. Getting gas is a throwback too. None of that faceless stick...

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  • Drive around the park

    After flying into Phoenix, we rented a car to drive ourselves around Arizona. Our first stop was Saguaro National Park, the western side. Although not a large park, the Bajada Loop road is the way to get around, and honestly,I don't know how you would visit without a car. There are quite a few rental places at the airport. We rented ours at Budget,...

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  • 2430 miles from New York City :-)

    Saguaro National Park is located only 2430 miles (3910 km) southwest of New York City :-) Where is it? OK, wear good glasses and enlarge my picture first, please!Look where Arizona is located in the USA. Tucson is located in southern Arizona (green square with number 1 on my picture - map). Saguaro National Park consists of the two separate units:...

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Saguaro National Park Shopping

  • Books on Sonora Desert

    There are a lot of books on Arizona and Sonora Desert to choose from in a gift shop inside the building of Red Hills Visitor Center (West Unit). I revied a few books on Arizona and Sonora Desert and... all were great! Hmm... I didn't buy any. $5 to $40 for a book as I remember well.

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  • Postcards

    You can buy mainly a lot of various book on Arizona and Sonora Desert and postcards in a gift shop of Red Hills Visitor Center. It's the visitor center of the western unit of the Saguaro National Park. Postcards - smaller or larger. $0.75 - $1.0.

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  • Buy a cactus

    There is a cactus store in front of Red Hills Visitor Center. Cacti if you like them. Hmm... it's not allowed to import any living plants to most countries, as I know. From $5 for a smallest cactus till... I don't remember.

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Saguaro National Park Local Customs

  • Local pronunciations

    In this area there are at least two cultures mixed: Hispanic (Mexican) and Native Americans. No wonder the pronunciation of many words is quite different. The word "saguaro" is pronaunced sah-WAH-row. Turn your speakers on and follow the link below :-))

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  • Scenic drives for you :-)

    National Parks in the USA are well prepared for driving visitors. There are scenic drives (paved or sometimes unpaved) with picnic areas, exhibitions, parking lots etc. in most of them, if not at all. I drove 9-mile Bajada Loop Drive in eastern part of Saguaro National Park and I found the tallest saguaros there.More on scenic drives:Scenic Drives

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  • "Birds and Bloom" hike

    This ranger-lead program was great fun. I am by no means a naturalist and have no experience in bird watching or flower photography, so I learned a whole lot from this 2.5 hour leisure hike. Most importantly, I learned to slow down my pace and enjoy the nature, which is quite different from the way I used to hike. The lead ranger and all the...

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Saguaro National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Abandoned Mines!

    The area does have abandoned mines. Some are covered with warnings but you may come across one that is not. Do not go in these mines! They can collapse and many rodents live inside. The sign below was not facing the trail strangely enough. I had to walk to the other side on unstable grade to see what it said. Somebody wasn't thinking when they but...

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  • Jumping Cholla!

    These plants are all over the desert southwest. They can be found along trails. They seem to just jump out at you and stick to clothing and skin! The barbs are small and very sharp. If you are wearing a light ventilated hiking shoe, the barb will go through this and right into your skin.If you do happen to have a pod of this annoying plant attach...

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  • Montain Lions!

    I have done a lot of hiking in the desert at all times of the day. Not all trail heads have warning, but some do. These signs are posted in the East district and the Rincon Mountains. Mountain Lions mostly come out in the evening to feed or early morning hours before the heat of the day. I have on occasion hiked at night with a headlamp to escape...

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Saguaro National Park Tourist Traps

  • Cold, cold, cold :-)))

    Is the Sonoran desert area hot? YES, it is, but exclusively at daytime. Nighttime temperatures can drop by as much as 30 degrees (17.5 C), and high in the Rincon Mountains it is even cooler. During winter they can occasionally fall below freezing (32F = 0C) in Saguaro National Park. It snows usually once or twice a year but the snow quickly melts...

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  • They close too early!

    I was in front of Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) at about 4:30 pm. I knew that they closed at 5:00 pm. That's right but... they finished admit visitors or better to say to sell tickets) at 4:00 pm. First I was very dissapointed about it. I started to talk with a park ranger. I asked her to do us a favour and to let us enter the museum - just...

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  • Heat, heat, heat!

    Southern Arizona and Saguaro National Park (in lower heights, up to say 5000 feet = 1524 m) are one of the hottest places in the USA in summer, or more exactly from May to October. In summer high temperatures are usually over 100F = 38C (sometimes even 110F = 43C), low over 70F (21C).Check the 10-day forecast for Tucson:National Weather Service My...

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Saguaro National Park What to Pack

  • Bring your hiking shoes

    Definately bring your hiking shoes for walking around the desert trails. When we went it was winter (and cloudy) but in the summer I would suggest lightweight clothing as it gets very very hot Sunscreen, there is hardly any shade at all. if you want to capture any of the elusive wildlife, you might wast to bring a long lens. For Cacti details a...

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  • Shoes

    Do NOT follow me! Don't wear sandals when you are going to hike along the park trails. To reduce the chance of being bitten by venomous snakes, scorpions or Gila monsters better wear boots and loose fitting pants while hiking.I didn't meet any venomous creatures there :-)

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  • Everything against heat and sun!

    No bags in hot summer except one for your camera, good (safe) pockets (or comfortable belt) instead. Small city rucksack for warm winter. Light clothes (shorts, T-shirts, better too large :-) made of natural materials (cotton) for warm/hot days all year round.Sweater/pullover and/or jacket for cold evenings/nights (from November till April).Shoes?...

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Saguaro National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Check out the Windmill

    Not mentioned on any park map is an unnamed metal windmill off of the Gila Monster Trail. There is a sign for it on the trail and it is a short walk and worth the few extra minutes to check it out. It appears to be a way water was pumped up from a wash. The windmill sits on a small cliff above a wash. In the wash is a basin to collect water.Kind of...

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  • Sus Picnic Area

    Driving Scenic Bajada Loop Drive I drove to Sus Picnic Area. There are a lot of various very interesting plants there: cacti including saguaros, palo verde trees, ocotillos and creosote bushes. Add a lot of fast running lizards :-). So, don't forget to turn left driving north Hohokam Road, folow the direction sign to Sus Picnic Area.

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  • Visiting the Wilderness Backcountry

    About 128 miles of trails traverse Saguaro East, winding through the desert and into the mountain country. Some of these will take you into the large wilderness areas of the Rincon Mountains and their foothills. Very few people travel here because it can be visited only on foot or horseback. (If you have your own horse.) In the mountains you will...

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Saguaro National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Hike the Valley View Overlook Trail

    This trail is an in and out hike about 1 mile long round trip. The trail head is on the road with a small pull out that can fit several cars. The hike is fairly flat and wide with little exposure steps are constructed to minimize erosion and make it easier to hike. Along the trail there are a few markers identifying some flora that was not...

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  • Hike the Ringtail Trail

    The Ringtail Trail is an out and back trail but usually done in conjunction with other trails to create a loop hike. Parking for the trail head is outside the park boundary, which is a good option if you plan to hike after sunset as the park access roads will close. You can gain access to the trail from the Cam-boh Trail. The Ringtail Trail is an...

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  • Coyote Pass Trail

    Coyote Pass is in the West section of the park and is accessed from the the Cactus Canyon Trail and usually done as part of a loop hike with the Gila Monster Trail and the Cactus Canyon Trail. Coyote Pass is a well marked trail and easy to navigate the route. It can be very rocky at points so sturdy boots are needed. The trail is fairly straight...

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Saguaro National Park Favorites

  • Blooming Saguaros

    In late May and though June, the Saguaro cactus begin to bloom producing clusters of beautiful white flowers. Some interesting facts about the blooming Saguaro. The flower opens at night and only lasts for 24 hours. In that time they have to pollinate. During the day that is by bees and birds. However at night it is by bats!After the Saguaro has...

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  • Keep a map~

    Off the Golden Gate Road you have access to the Prophecy Wash Trail, Encinas Trail, Ez-Him-In_Zin picnic area, Wild Dog Trail, Signal Hill picnic area. 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...

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  • Saguaro Cactus

    Saguaros grow mostly in the south of Arizona and Mexico in the Sonora Desert from sea level to 4,000 feet. They are a slow growing plant that grows between 1 and 1.5 inches in the first eight years of its life. What is so amazing is how long these magnificent plant lives. They do not start to grow limbs or branches till they are almost 50 to 70...

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Explore Deeper into Saguaro National Park
Cactus Garden Trail
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Javelina Wash Trail
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Red Hills Visitor Center
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Mica View Picnic Area
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Cactus Forest Loop Drive
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East Visitor Center
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Mam-A-Gah Picnic Area
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Ironwood Forest Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Gould Mine Trail
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Freeman Homestead Trail
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Javelina Picnic Area
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Cactus Forest Trail
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Desert Ecology Trail
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Signal Hill
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Valley View Nature Trail
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Desert Discovery Nature Trail
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Art ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Cave ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Butterfly Garden ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Cactus Garden ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Prarie Dog ~ Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Water~water~water
Warnings and Dangers
Sunscreen Dispensers
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Umbrella's~To help with the heat of the day!
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Lizard Enclosure - Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Arizon-Sonora Desert Museum
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Cactus Garden Trail
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Red Hill Visitor Center Plaza's
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Saguaro National Park
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Red Hill Visitor Center
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Africanized Honeybees
Warnings and Dangers
They don't sell giant saguaros :-(
Shopping
Flowers of barrel cactus
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Fast running lizards
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Mountains
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Palo Verde? What's that?
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Palo Verde? Who's that?
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Exhibition
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Giant saguaro forest
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For fast and/or lazy visitors :-)
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Map of Saguaro National Park

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