Hiking the Saguaro National Park


One of the biggest draws for outdoor enthusiasts to Tucson is the incredible challenges and marvels of the Saguaro National Park. An overnight trip into the Saguaro’s terrain can take you from a 3,000’ elevation to over 8,000’ in only a short 15 miles.

Saguaro National Park is composed of two districts; the Rincon Mountain District located to the East of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District located to the West. The Saguaro National Monument was created in 1933, but it wasn’t until 1976 that the Saguaro Wilderness Area, an additional 71,400 acres, was added. Saguaro National Park was then created from these two areas in 1994 and currently encompasses 91,327 acres.

Hikes can be started from five trailheads, including the easy-to-access Douglas Spring Trailhead that is located next to the entrance at Tanque Verde Ranch. You can take auto or bike to explore around the Cactus Forest Loop Drive offering incredible views of the Rincon Mountains, or head over to the Signal Hill Picnic Area, which offers visitors the chance to view hundreds of ancient petroglyphs or rock engravings. Click here to access the official National Park Service trail maps to start planning your future journey through the Saguaro National Park!

Besides the unique animals you may see in this part of the desert, Tucson is home to the largest cacti in North America, the giant saguaro. A universal symbol to the American west, these majestic plants can only be found in a small portion of the United States. Learn more about the plant life in the Saguaro National park by clicking here.

Whether you’re planning a day hike, or overnight camping trip, make sure to read the The Saguaro Wilderness Area Booklet about animals, safety and restrictions. At the back of the booklet you will find an application for the permit that is required for your overnight stay. Otherwise, if you’re planning on making your base camp at Tanque Verde Ranch, make sure to join our naturalists on a guided tour through our property adjacent to the Saguaro National Forest to see the plant and animal in detail from the eyes of our local experts.