Home to the famous Cacti, Saguaro Cactus, Saguaro National Park features one of the most iconic landscapes, unlike other national parks in America.
From scenic drives to hiking, stunning mountains, to beautiful sunsets, Saguaro National Park is an ultimate holiday destination that will make you feel like you are in a scene from the movie “Wizard of Oz.”
|Park||Saguaro National Park|
|Things to do||Long Drive, Hiking and many more|
|Hotels near Saguaro National Park||Arizona Inn, Graduate Tucson and many more|
|Camping Locations||Mulltiple Locations|
In this post, you’ll find nearly all the top landmarks of Saguaro National Park, along with tips on when to visit the park, where to stay, weather, and more to make your trip as seamless as possible. Let’s dive in!
About Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is the first national park created to protect the mighty Saguaro cactus, the prickly, green creatures with outstretched arms.
There are over 1.8 million saguaro cacti in the garden, some even rising to 50 feet tall.
Located in Tucson, Arizona, the park consists of rugged mountain ranges and desert flats, where the mighty Saguaro cactus runs against the backdrop of a beautiful desert landscape.
You also get to witness the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, an arid region with the most diverse vegetation in any desert of North America.
There are plenty of things to do in this Park, including scenic drives, hiking, and camping. For those interested in exploring the stretch of the country, this National Park is a place for you.
The history of Saguaro involves many cultures and intense political efforts to designate it as a national park.
It took years and involved tons of people from Reps. Steward and Morris Udal, Sen Hayden, and former presidents John. F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
In 1933, President Herbert Hoover declared the land converted into a national monument.
A year later, the park administration got transferred to the National Park Service by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
From 1936 to 1939, the park’s infrastructure, including the Monument’s Cactus Forest Loop Drive, was built, and the monument was officially opened in the 1950s.
In 1994, Congress officially upgraded the monument’s status to a national park solely to protect the single plant species.
To learn more about the park’s history and establishment, click here.
Things To Do In The Park
To help you plan your visit, here are the top five things you must do in this Park:
The Bajada Loop Drive
The Bajada Loop is a 5-mile scenic drive that takes visitors through the dense forest of Saguaros and gives access to some pretty exciting hiking trails.
The road is unpaved but very well maintained to drive a sedan or even a two-wheeler quickly.
You’ll find some stunning viewpoints, trailheads, and picnic areas along the loop, out of which Valley view is worth mentioning.
Hike The Valley View Overlook Trail
Valley View is famous for its incredible panoramic views of the stunning Saguaro-filled desert.
The hike to the trail is relatively easy, with few stairs to transverse, but at the end, you’ll get to see some views of the Avra Valley and Picacho Peak.
The 0.8-mile trail is very well-maintained perfect for people of all ages.
Hike To The Top Of Wassen Peak
Wassen Peak is the tallest mountain in the Tucson Mountain District of this Park.
If you’re up for a big adventure, hike to the top of Wassen Peak to enjoy some of the most incredible views of the park.
The 8-miles round trip loop travels along the ridges with excellent desert vistas and takes you through some of the dense Saguaro Forest in Arizona.
On reaching the top, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Tucson, the Santa Catalina Mountains, and beyond.
View Petroglyphs At Signal Hill
Signal Hill is the largest petroglyph site in the Tuscan Mountain District. The site consists of more than 200 prehistoric petroglyphs viewed from the visitor’s trail.
You can access the site via a short and easy hiking trail and witness the incredible views of this ancient rock art dating from 550 to 1550 years ago.
However, be careful of rattlesnakes that sometimes walk up to the path of Signal Hill.
Hike The Desert Discovery Trail
This self-guided 0.5-mile nature trail offers a rich collection of Sonoran Desert ecology framed by jagged peaks of the Tucson Mountain District.
There are various roadsides throughout the area that will take you to many trailheads where you can find great places to hike.
The trail is fully wheelchair accessible, allowing all the visitors to get out of the car and experience the beauty of the desert.
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit the this Park is Anytime between November through March.
During these months, daytime temperatures are moderate, averaging between the 60s and 70s°F that just a light jacket is required.
However, heavy showers can cause flash floods at any time of the year, so make sure to check the weather alert before making a plan to visit.
Make sure to download the Park map showing all the locations, directions, trails, and visitor centers.
Park’s PDF map can be found here, or you can also download the NPS App, which offers a complete map of top sights, hiking trails, and visitor centers in the park.
There are no developed campgrounds at this Park. Still, some sites are just a few minutes away from the park, best to explore the Saguaro’s natural beauty, including Molino Basin Campground, General Hitchcock Campground, and Gilbert Ray Campground in the West Saguaro.
Camping is only allowed with a permit, and a maximum of six people are allowed per site. To make reservations visit recreation.gov.
This Park has a hot and semi-arid environment. Summers in the park can be scorching, with daytime temperatures exceeding 110°F in the shade.
Winter brings cold yet mild weather with warm days and cool nights. The average day temperature during winter is 65°F with nights averaging 40°F.
During monsoon months, flash floods can occur from mid-June to September, so make sure to check the latest weather before visiting the park.
Best Hotels Near Saguaro National Park
There are lodging options within the Park except for the backcountry campsites, but there are many other fabulous places to stay near the park in Tucson and Around-town:
Entry Fee & Passes
The entry fee for this Park is $25 per vehicle, $20 per motorcycle, and $15 per person unless you have America the Beautiful Pass.
In just $80, you’ll not only get free access to the the Park for the entire year but to other 400 recreational sites as well.
Entry for individuals 15 of age or younger is entirely free. For more information or purchase the online passes, visit the NPS website.
Checklist Of Things to Pack
Make sure to pack the following basics before heading to the Park:
- Long-sleeved clothes with multiple layers
- Water Supply
- Hiking shoes
- First-aid kit
- Map & Compass
How much time Do I need to explore Saguaro National Park?
Saguaro National Park is relatively small and can be easily explored in a couple of hours or a day.
What is the difference between the east and west region of Saguaro National Park?
The western district is much smaller and visitor-friendly, mostly made up of desert grasslands and rocky ridges, while the Eastern part has the oldest saguaro forests with a more rugged landscape.
Which is the peak season at Saguaro National Park?
November to March are the peak months at the park when the temperatures are mild, and many varieties of cacti start to bloom.