Saguaro national park lies 20 miles east of Tucson Arizona encompassing over 91,000 acres of designated wilderness. The park gets its name from the saguaro cactus, a large cactus which is native to the region. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American Southwest and these majestic plants are found only in a small portion of the United States. Situated in the Sonoran Desert, this magnificent national park is split up into two regions, called districts. The Tucson Mountain District (TMD) on the west, and the Rincon Mountain District (RMD) to the east. They are approximately 30 miles apart and are separated by the city of Tucson’s 1 million residents. Tucson is 60 miles north of the U.S. Mexican border and about 100 miles south of the state capital, Phoenix.

While similar in terms of plants and animals, the intricate details make both areas worthy of a visit.. The Tucson Mountain District boasts large stands of saguaro cactus creating an awe inspiring saguaro forest, whereas the Rincon Mountain District hosts an incredible sky island. Wildlife in the park can include bears, cougars and the ever elusive coati.

As well as giant saguaro, many other kinds of cactus, including barrel, cholla, and prickly pear, are abundant in the park. One endangered animal, the Lesser Long-nosed Bat, lives in the park part of the year during its migration, together with one threatened species, the Mexican Spotted Owl.

Facilities in the park include 150 miles of walking trails.

Our favorite walk:

Cactus Forest Trail

This easy 2.5 mile each way trail takes you through the Javelina wash though a grove of large saguaros including a thirty armed giant.

Why we love it:

It’s an easy trail getting you really close to giant saguaros.


Be alert while hiking. Watch for cactus and other prickly plants. Wear long light pants and closed toes shoes and enjoy!