The staff at Saguaro National Park invite you to "Experience Your America" in a way that only the Sonoran Desert can offer. This unique desert is home to the most recognizable cactus in the world, the majestic saguaro. Visitors of all ages are fascinated and enchanted by these desert giants, especially their many interesting and complex interrelationships with other desert life. Saguaro cacti provide their sweet fruits to hungry desert animals. They also provide homes to a variety of birds, such as the Harris' hawk, Gila woodpecker and the tiny elf owl. Yet, the saguaro requires other desert plants for its very survival. During the first few years of a very long life, a young saguaro needs 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.
While most visitors to Saguaro National Park choose a leisurely drive on one of our scenic loop drives, those eager for an escape from the rigors of city life often opt to explore the park on one of our many trails. With over 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from flat and easy strolls in the Sonoran Desert to steep and rugged hikes into the Rincon Mountains, visitors of every ability have a place to get out of the car and explore.
Rincon Mountain District- Backcountry Camping Area
Open All Year
Details: Backcountry camping is permitted in the Saguaro Wilderness Area located in the Rincon Mountain District.This backcountry area consists of 59,930 acres and was designated as a wilderness area in 1976. Overnight camping requires a permit fee of $6.00 beginning March 1, 2003, which can be obtained through the mail or in person at the RMD visitor center. Permits are not available after noon on the day of departure. There are six wilderness campgrounds, which are only accessible by foot or horse. All of these campgrounds are a minimum of six miles from the nearest trailhead. Water is available seaonally in the wilderness area. Check with the RMD visitor center for a current water report. Manning Camp has a permanent spring, however, it may be frozen over during the winter months. It is stongly recommended that all water be treated before drinking. Saguaro National Park does NOT offer drive-in camping facilities on either district. Camping is available in nearby county and state parks and in the Coronado National Forest.
Saguaro National Park 's visitor season is from approximately November through April.
During these months both districts of the park offer naturalist-led activities on most days. Patio talks and cactus garden walks are offered near the visitor centers, most of these are wheel-chair accessible. Longer guided hikes and special activities such as bird and wildflower walks are offered frequently during the season.
Special moonlight hikes and full-moon talks are also offered, many of these require reservations.Call the visitor centers for specific information: Rincon Mountain District (Eastside) 520 733-5153, Tucson Mountain District (Westside) 520 733-5158.
JUNIOR RANGER DISCOVERY PACK:
Saguaro National Park offers two versions of our self-guided Junior Ranger Discovery Pack program. Parents may choose from one of two activity booklets. We recommend the 12-page activity booklet for children between the ages of 5 and 8. The 20-page activity booklet is recommended for children between the ages of 9 and 12. "Discovery Packs" are available for loan with your child's Activity Booklet. These packs contain a variety of supplies designed to aid in the completion of the Activity Booklet. The Junior Ranger Discovery Pack program is free of charge, however, identification is needed to check out a Discovery Pack. This program is available year round, except Christmas Day. Please allow 1-2 hours to complete either Activity Booklet. If you would like more information, please call or write the park.
Car - The Rincon Mountain District may be reached from the City of Tucson by traveling east on Broadway or Speedway to Freeman Road; Take Freeman Road south (right) to Old Spanish Trail (4 miles [6.5 km] from Speedway, 3 miles [5 km] from Broadway). Turn left onto Old Spanish Trail heading south. Look for signs to the Park entrance. The Park entrance is approximately .25 miles [.4 km] from Freeman Road.
The Tucson Mountain District may be reached from Tucson by traveling west on Speedway Boulevard. At the junction with Camino de Oeste, Speedway Boulevard will change names to Gates Pass Road. From this junction, continue to drive west on Gates Pass Road until you reach the "T" intersection with Kinney Road (4 miles [6.5 km]). Turn right on Kinney Road and drive three miles [5 km] north to the Park entrance. The entrance is on the right side of Kinney Road.
Bus - Major bus lines serve Tucson, Arizona.
Public Transportation - Amtrak serves Tucson, Arizona.
The City of Tucson operates public bus transportation services throughout the City of Tucson. These bus lines do NOT reach either district of Saguaro National Park. Public transportation is not available within the park.