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Hiking Saguaro National Park

by Katie Skrzek

Apr 10, 2023

© Katie Skrzek

Destinations / North America

While Grand Canyon National Park might be the most well-known national park in Arizona,  stunning Saguaro National Park is a great alternative for family travelers.

 

cactus

© Katie Skrzek

Located in Pima County, Arizona, the park’s two sections are located on either side of Tucson. The park is home to the country’s largest cacti; The saguaro is a tree-like cactus, only grown in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. The massive cacti can grow to more than 40 feet high. The saguaro’s flowering season runs late April–June.

 

The east and west sides of the park offer different opportunities. Opened in 1933, the east side boasts 128 miles of hiking trails, six backcountry camping sites and two picnic areas. It features a higher elevation with an older saguaro forest, scrub/desert grassland, oak/pine-oak woodland and a pine/mixed conifer forest. The west side features 43 miles of hiking trails, a higher saguaro density than the east side, a younger saguaro forest and a lower elevation.

 

Saguaro

© Katie Skrzek

There are visitor centers on both sides of the park: Rincon Mountain District (east) and Tucson Mountain District (west). Park passes cost $25 per vehicle, $20 per motorcycle or $15 per person. Camping is available year-round at the park, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

 

The park is open daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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