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An Awesome Cactus, Great Trails, and Culture: Here’s Why Saguaro National Park is Worth Visiting

With so many national parks in western states, it’s hard to pick just one. Even when you do, some people prioritize certain parks over others, like visiting the Grand Canyon or Zion over a smaller park. However, if you look closer, you’ll see places like Saguaro National are worth visiting.

Here are all the great things you can find visiting this park in southern Arizona. 

You Can Get Up Close to a Saguaro

saguaro national park worth visiting
(Source: James Lee)

What is a saguaro? Pronounced as “suh-waa-row” this plant is the cactus that comes to mind when most people hear the word cactus. It’s the prickly plant seen in Looney Tunes or any other popular culture when people think of the desert. Despite how popular it is in the media, saguaros are only found in the Sonoran Desert, including Arizona, tiny spots in California, and Mexico. The plant can grow incredibly tall, with the tallest record hitting 78 feet tall and can live for over 100 years.

The Park Has Two Distinct Areas to Explore

Saguaro National Park is unique for having two distinct districts that are cut in half by the city of Tucson, Arizona. The west side, called the Tucson Mountains, is more popular. This side sits at a lower elevation and is known for easier trails. On the east side of the city of Tucson is the Rincon Mountains District. This side of the park sits at a higher elevation than the west side. While you can find saguaros and desert plants in both districts, the Rincon side has more wildlife due to the higher elevation and includes animals like black bears.

View History By Hiking to See the Signal Hill Petroglyphs

visting saguaro
(Source: NPS)

Visitors can also find human history in this national park. The Signal Hill petroglyphs contain rock art from 500 to 1,550 years ago. It’s believed the Hohokam people created the petroglyphs. Park officials say they do not try to understand the artwork’s meaning, saying, “Some meanings were not meant to be known or understood except by the person who made it. Some meanings were not meant to be known or understood by the uninitiated. Some images were possibly made for religious purposes.” Visitors can view the art from a trail but are asked not to touch any artwork.

Go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum 

A nearby museum makes Saguaro National Park worth visting
(Source: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum)

You can learn even more about the region once you leave the park. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has trails, wildlife, and other exhibits you can view. There’s also a daily raptor show where birds like hawks show off what they can do. Plus, there are plenty of fun spaces for kids to enjoy. The museum is located just outside the western part of the park.

Besides Saguaro National Park, Tucson is Also Worth Visiting

Downtown Tucson
(Source: Visit Tucson)

Not only is Saguaro National Park worth visiting, but so is Tucson. The medium-sized city has endless restaurants, retail stores, and other fun spots. Popular tourist areas include downtown districts with art museums, restaurants where Mexican food is king, and plenty of nightlife. 

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