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Saguaro National Park Map

by Aakash singh

The following content on Saguaro National Park is licenced from National Geographic's Guide to National Parks of the United States (9th Edition).

THE SAGUARO CACTUS long ago went from being a mere plant to an iconic symbol depicted all over, from comic strips to magazine advertising. Namesake of Saguaro National Park, its grand, distinctive arm-raised form sends a loud-and-clear message: This is the American West.

Established October 14, 1994
91,442 Acres
Saguaro National Park Map

And yet the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) occupies a very limited range, growing only in a portion of the Sonoran Desert ecoregion of the United States and Mexico. In the United States, the cactus is found almost exclusively in southern Arizona.

Saguaro National Park Map

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In recognition of the saguaro’s uniqueness, in 1933 a tract of cactus forest east of Tucson, in what is now the Rincon Mountain District of the park, was protected as a national monument. Additional land, now the Tucson Mountain District, was added to the national monument in 1961; 33 years later, they were elevated in status as Saguaro National Park.

The two park districts, 30 miles apart—one east and one west of Tucson—offer convenient hiking opportunities. Other park options include horseback riding, bicycling, and mountain biking. The Sonoran Desert habitat remains the park’s main attraction—not just the extensive stands of saguaro but a broad range of other plants as well as a variety of animals.

The Tucson Mountain District boasts the densest saguaro forests. The larger eastern district—the Rincon Mountain District—extends into the mountains, where woodlands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir create a striking contrast to the desert below.

Given the diversity of habitats, a hiker can travel from desert scrub (home to roadrunners and peccaries) to conifer forest on 8,666-foot Mica Mountain, where Mexican spotted owl, white-tailed deer, and black bear roam. Such a journey traverses five major life zones: desert, grassland, oak scrub, pine forest, and riparian.

How to Visit

The park can be experienced in one day—or more if you want to do some serious hiking. If you’re primarily interested in seeing saguaros, head to the Tucson Mountain District. Walk the short Desert Discovery Trail and drive the 5-mile Scenic Bajada Loop Drive. Consider hiking the 0.5-mile Signal Hill Trail to see Native American petroglyphs. Ask at the Red Hills Visitor Center about longer hikes, such as the 3.5- mile King Canyon Trail.

In the Rincon Mountain District, the 8-mile Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive offers a wealth of fine views and saguaros, as well as possibilities for short hikes. For a strenuous hike into the Rincon Mountain foothills, do a loop from the Douglas Spring Trailhead, following Douglas Spring up a fairly steep slope to the Carrillo Trail and down into the cactus forest via the Garwood Trail (about 5.8 miles). The loop can be made longer by switching up the return route; ask for advice at the visitor center.

The north entrance to the park is an exit off I-40, about 25 miles east of Holbrook, Arizona; the south entrance is about 19 miles east of Holbrook on U.S. 180. The park can be explored from either direction. Here we will start in the north; simply reverse this tour if you are starting in the south.

Useful Information

How to get there

The park is both east and west from Tucson, AZ; take Speedway Blvd. west to Gates Pass Rd. and go north on Kinney Rd. to reach the Tucson Mountain District. Take Speedway Blvd. east and go south on Freeman Rd. and Old Spanish Trail to reach the Rincon Mountain District.

When to go

Temperatures are most pleasant Oct. through April. Summer is very hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F. From July through Sept., afternoon thunderstorms can cause flash floods.

Visitor Centers

Both park districts—Tucson Mountain and Rincon Mountain—have visitor centers, open year-round.


3693 S. Old Spanish Trail Tucson, AZ 85730 Rincon Mountain District 520-733-5153 Tucson Mountain District 520-733-5158


There are no campgrounds in the park. Backcountry camping (fee) in the Rincon Mountain District is allowed with a permit.


Lodging is plentiful in Tucson: Metro Tucson Convention and Visitor Bureau,; 800-638-8350.

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About the Guide

 National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States 9th Edition
Bask in the spectacular beauty, thrilling terrain, and quiet peacefulness of the country’s finest state parks, hand- picked by park directors and National Geographic editors. This fully updated fifth edition includes 750 additional off- the-beaten track destinations. Beautifully written descriptions tell the stories of the parks, from their wildlife, natural features, and history to their most popular current activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, water sports, and rock climbing. Vivid images inspire your next getaway, while detailed information–including 32 detailed maps highlighting sites, trails, campgrounds, and more– helps you plan your next excursion. From free to low-cost, from Florida to Alaska, from the six-acre lao Valley to the 204,000-acre Baxter, use this essential guide to plan a day visit or a weekend escape.
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