Results 1-10of 10 Reviews
March 5, 2005
To clear up any confusion, there are two Saguaro National Parks, West and East. Both have hiking trails and loop roads, although the West holds the more impressive stands of saguaro. The Red Hills Visitor Center (West) will provide maps and information about hiking distances and terrain.
We chose the King Benson Trail recommended by our friend Scott. A rather short trail (2 miles round-trip), it was all we could squeeze in before dark after spending most of the day at the AZ Desert Museum. The trail head was easy to find – we basically drove across the street from the museum.
The first section followed an old gravel road at the southern end of the park. Saguaro and ocotillo cactuses grew out of the hills and distant Tucson mountains. We met another couple who were searching for wildflowers and making notes in a book. Locals, they explained that because of the high rains this year, the wildflower show, which was just beginning, was already the most spectacular in 10 years.
To our left, a wash was visible at the bottom of the valley. Judging from the people walking around, it was currently dry, a good thing since that was our destination. We'd learned that petroglyphs existed on the rocks bordering the wash, and we were keen to see them.
At the trail junction for Esperanza near the Mam-A-Gah picnic area, we turned left to explore the wash. Hikers can continue east on the Norris Trail for another 2.2 miles to reach Wasson Peak, the highest point in the Tucson Mountains at 4687 feet.
Climbing down volcanic rocks to reach the sandy floor of the wash, we soon found petroglyphs on both sides of the rock. Geometric shapes and stick figures decorating many of the rocks are thought to be drawn by the Hohokam Indians, who had vanished by the 15th century. Other petroglyphs can be seen at Signal Hill on the very west border of the park, which easily accessed by car.
As we hiked back toward the car, dusk fast approached. Tips of the saguaros gleamed white against the dark shadowy mountains as skies turned pale apricot.
From journal Saguaros, Sunsets & the Wild, Wild West in Tucson
Overland Park, Kansas
November 27, 2002
There is a nice visitor center where you enter the park with a nice exhibit explaining the different types of deserts and what kind of desert is contained within the Park itself.
By the visitor center is a small walk through Desert Garden where you can see the various kinds of desert plant life up close.
The visitor center and walk through Desert Garden are free. The eight mile drive through loop costs $6.00 per vehicle unless you have one of the National Park Service's special passes, such as the Golden Eagle Pass which costs $50.00 for one year and lets you into all the Parks, or a Golden Age Passport if you are 62 or older which costs $10.00 one time and lets you visit all the parks for the rest of your life.
From journal Tucson - Day Trip from Phoenix
by Vera Marie
August 25, 2000
From journal Tucson's Top Seven
by Gwilym Owen
November 8, 2002
These huge cacti are fascinating, especially their complex relationships with other desert life. The cacti provide their sweet fruit to hungry animals and also provide homes to a variety of birds, such as the Harris’ hawk, Gila woodpecker and the tiny elf owl. Despite their seeming invulnerability, the saguaro require other desert plants for their very survival during the first few years, needing the shade and protection of a nurse plant such as the palo verde tree. With an average life span of 150 years, a mature saguaro may grow to a height of 50 feet and weigh over 10 tons.
Red Hills visitor centre, near the entrance is very informative with a large diorama depicting the natives species, and a viewing platform that allows you to see ‘Sensitive Resource Area’ of the park. Stop here for maps, information, and suggestions about the scenic drives, bird watching, photography, hiking, and participating in guided walks. There is also a bookstore with a great selection of books on the Sonoran Desert and the Southwest. Numerous guided walks are also offered.
My favorite sight was Signal Hill, which has ancient Native American pictoglyphs at its summit.
The Park is open daily, 7:00am to sunset. Visitor centers are open daily, 8:30am to 5:00pm and the best time to visit is winter when the weather is very pleasant with mild, warm days averaging 19 degrees Celsius. Summers can be extremely hot with daytime temperatures exceeding 41 degrees Celsius, even in the shade. Always wear a hat and use sunscreen while hiking and drink plenty of water. If driving, carry extra water and remember to leave windows slighty open to prevent the glass from shattering.
Check out the Saguaro National Park website for further details.
From journal Tucson - The Suprise Package
ashbourne, United Kingdom
April 21, 2013
From journal California and Arizona road trip
July 27, 2007
From journal Into the Sunset
April 20, 2006
From journal Spring Training in Tucson
June 4, 2005
From journal Tucson in 1 Day
North Reading, Massachusetts
April 27, 2005
The museum building includes a small but interesting display of desert wildlife, including a javelina, rattlesnake, and several birds. The gift shop includes a number of unique items, including cookbooks using local ingredients like prickly pears and mesquite "meal" (which can also be purchased) and CDs of great "native" music that are the perfect accompaniment to those long drives through the Arizona mountains. The 15-minute slide presentation includes moving descriptions by Native Americans of the cultural and spiritual significance of the Saguaro and a dramatic ending that everyone will enjoy.
The website for the park is http://www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm. Enjoy (but watch out for rattlesnakes!).
From journal Arizona Adventure
Depew, New York
July 19, 2003
From journal Scottsdale, A Base for Varied Activities