The saguaro has been described as the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, as a prickly horror, as the supreme symbol of the American Southwest, and as a plant with personality. It is renowned for the variety of odd, all-too-human shapes it assumes, shapes that inspire wild and fanciful imaginings. Giant saguaro cacti, unique to the Sonoran Desert, sometimes reach a height of 50 feet in this cactus forest, which covers the valley floor, rising into the Rincon and West Tucson mountains. Since 1933 this extraordinary giant cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park. Preserved along with it are many other members of the Sonoran Desert community--other cacti, desert trees and shrubs, and animals. In lushness and variety of life the Sonoran Desert far surpasses all other North American deserts
Seasons / Hours
Both districts of the park (east and west) are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Visitor Centers are open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM daily, except Christmas.
- Main Visitor Center: Just inside the western edge of Saguaro East on Cactus Forest Drive.
- Red Hills Information Center: Just inside the southern edge of Saguaro West on Kinney Road.
Rates & Fees: Saguaro West and East
- Visitor Center: On Kinney Road just past the park entrance.
- Click here for a QuicktimeVR of the Visitor Center.
$10.00 entrance fee per vehicle.
$5.00 for pedestriansor bicyclists.
Both districts have Visitor Centers that offer books, brochures, maps, trail and drive guides, exhibits, and a slide program about the Saguaro and the Sonoran Desert. Rangers are available if you have questions about what to see and do.
Numerous guided walks are offered at each Visitor Center. Schedules of ranger-guided walks and other park activities that are offered in the winter are posted in the Visitor Centers. Published schedules of programs are available during the winter season. Special environmental education programs are frequently conducted for local school groups. Several Junior Ranger Programs are available.
Motels, gasoline, groceries, trailer parks, laundries and other services are available in nearby Tucson and the adjoining area.
Visitor Centers, restrooms, picnic areas, and some trails and programs are fully accessible.
Rules, Regulations, Precautions
- Hiking and other strenuous activities in extreme heat can be hazardous. Pace yourself and rest often. Carry water (at least 1 gallon per person per day is recommended) and drink even when you don't feel thirsty. There is no water available at picnic areas or along most trails.
- Beware of painful encounters with cacti and other prickly plants. Be especially careful near Cholla cactus spines that, with just the slightest touch, can become embedded in your skin. If a cactus joint attaches itself, use two sticks, a pocket comb, or other object as a lever to flip it away.
- The park is a sanctuary for living things. Leave plants and animals undisturbed. To avoid encountering poisonous rattlesnakes, scorpions, or Gila monsters, carry a flashlight at night and avoid putting your hands and feet under rocks or in other hidden places. All types of weapons are prohibited.
- During thunderstorms, both lightning and flash floods pose threats. Avoid open and low-lying areas.
- Park roads are designed for sightseeing. Obey speed limits.
- Driving off the road is prohibited. Remember to always wear your seat belt.
- Pets must be leashed at all times. They are not allowed on trails.
- In an emergency, contact a ranger or call 911.
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730-5699
520-733-5158 (Saguaro West)
520-733-5153 (Saguaro East)