Saguaro National Park
Nothing says “American West” more than Arizona’s iconic cactus: the saguaro. Well, OK, cowboys, mountains and sagebrush are pretty Western, too, but the saguaro inspires for its towering size, longevity and limited geography. The only place in the world to see these cacti in their natural habitat is the Sonoran Desert, encompassing southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico—with a few stragglers in southeastern California. The succulent is so special it even has its own magnificent national park. Located on either side of Tucson, Saguaro National Park has two sections. Both are impressive but the eastern part has an excellent short drive that’s also fun to bike. If you love cactus and desert landscapes, this is a wonderful way to experience a different kind of forest, with a variety of hardy plants, insects and animals. Plus, it's on the outskirts of a cool city.
Best Time to Visit
Year-round but spring and fall are best. Saguaros bloom from late spring into early summer. Summer means super hot temps and drenching monsoons. Though rare, snow does occasionally fall, and stick, in winter. Saguaros dusted in white powder are certainly unusual and something special to see!
Route & Map
Downtown Tucson to Cactus Forest Drive in Saguaro East – Rincon Mountain District
8-mile, one-way paved road
One hour but plan to stay longer for short hikes.
Tucson: Arizona’s relaxed second city features awesome Mexican food and many superb hotels and resorts.