: Located near the city of Tucson in south Arizona, the park has west sections (recommended)
and east sections (longer hike and camping).
The giant saguaro cactus is one of the symbols of the American west desert.
These majestic plants, found in relatively small area, are protected by Saguaro
Summer is hot and winter is the preferred time to visit.
note 1: At the west sections, not far from the Red Hill Visitor Center you can
find the highly recommended Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, can combine visiting them
both at the same day.
Due note 2: The west section is the recommended one.
thoughts: As someone that live in Phoenix for few years, I know you can see the
Saguaro cactus in many other places at southern Arizona but this park has the densest
forest of such cactus. I relay like to visit here at the afternoon and sunset,
just walk below the huge cactus and impress by the view.
has two separate sections that are located on east and west of Tucson, many
miles apart. If you need to choose one to half day visit, after seeing them
both, I recommend the west section. It may be smaller in size and with shorter
hikes but has a lot of denser large cactus “forests” and I think better
is no campsite within the west park and backpacking or overnight stay is not allowed.
National Park West:
Hill Visitor Center: The visitor center located at east side of the park on Kenney
Road. Except of getting information there is not much to see there (you need to
pay here for entering the park).
few unpaved roads that are going through the park, make sure you plan your
route in advance because some are one way and Golden Gate road is marked for
high-clearance vehicles only.
Bajada Scenic Loop Drive, stop at Valley View Overlook Trail and do the short
hike to the top of the ridge viewing point. You can also take the right fork (after
crossing the dry river and explore the Wild Dog Trail all the way to the end or
go back whenever you want.
Hill: You can explore this site that also has rock petroglyph collection.
Discovery Nature Trail: I recommend doing this short, accessible, informative descriptions
of the main cacti types.
few other trails that climb the mountain ridge at the east.
National Park East:
east side of Tucson located the large section of the park, it also has here the
section of the high Mica Mountain (8,664 f) and much more long hiking options.
find here the same landscape and cactus although it looks like in this section,
they are less dense and with more other vegetation compare to the west section.
are not doing a long hike you can drive the one-way loop, 8 miles Cactus Forest
Drive, that will take you into the lower park section.
few stopping points on the road, a short unpaved drive will take you to Mica
View Picnic Area.
park section is much larger than the one in the west and has many more and longer
trail option including overnight camping.
are not doing one of the long hikes into the mountains you can do the trails
crossing the lowest slopes of Tanque Verde Ridge or the Cactus Forest Trail
that is going inside the road loop.
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