- Saguaro National Park protects and preserves the giant saguaro cactus forest in the Sonoran Desert. The saguaro has been described as the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, as a prickly horror, as the supreme symbol of the American Southwest, and as a plant with personality. It is renowned for the variety of odd, all-too-human shapes it assumes, shapes that inspire wild and fanciful imaginings.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Saguaro National Park sunset
Giant saguaro cacti, unique to the Sonoran Desert, sometimes reach a height of 50 feet in this cactus forest, which covers the valley floor, rising into the Rincon and West Tucson mountains. Since 1933 this extraordinary giant cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park. Preserved along with it are many other members of the Sonoran Desert community--other cacti, desert trees and shrubs, and animals. In lushness and variety of life the Sonoran Desert far surpasses all other North American deserts
Recreation - Both districts have visitor centers that are staffed and offer slide shows, museums, cactus gardens, and a sales outlet. They both also have miles of trails for hiking and scenic loop drives. For more information on these trails stop at the visitor center. Numerous guided walks are offered at each visitor center. Published schedules of programs are available during the winter season. Special environmental education programs are frequently conducted for local school groups. Several Junior Ranger Programs are available.
There is no lodging or drive-in camping in the park. Lodging is abundant in Tucson and campgrounds are available in the community. Backcountry camping is permitted in Saguaro East; a free permit is required and can be obtained at the visitor center. Food and supplies are available in Tucson. Visitor centers, restrooms, picnic areas, and some trails and programs are fully accessible.
Both districts of the park (east and west) are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Visitor centers are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, except Christmas.
Climate - Winters are delightful with mild warm days (60-70F.) and cool nights (40's). Summers can be extremely hot with daytime temperatures of 100-115 in the shade, and evening lows in the 80's. Long hikes are not recommended in the summer. Even short hikes require lots of water, a hat, and sun screen lotion.
There are two districts within Saguaro National Park: Saguaro East, the Rincon Mountain District and Saguaro West, the Tucson Mountain District. Saguaro East, or the Rincon Mountain District, may be reached from Tucson by traveling east on Broadway or Speedway to Freeman Road; turn right to Old Spanish Trail; turn left. Look for signs to park entrance.
Saguaro West, or the Tucson Mountain District, may be reached from Tucson by traveling Speedway Road west. Speedway becomes Gates Pass Road; the road ends at Kinney Road where you turn right and continue to the park entrance.
Note: Saguaro East and West are each about 15 miles from downtown Tucson. Along Interstate 10, there are signs directing travelers to Saguaro National Park.