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My Experience at Saguaro National Park

It took me this long in my life to visit one of the many beautiful national parks of the West coast, but boy am I glad to have finally had this experience! I mean, I had literally never even since a cactus up-close in real life, so you can probably tell how excited I was to get to come here... Tucson, Arizona sure has a gem right by their city!


If you want to see some beautiful scenery of cacti, this is your place. Mountains the go out in the distance, covered with thousands of these prickly plants. Dating all the way back between 200 and 1450 A.D., the Hokoham culture inhabited the land and lived a life here. To this day, petroglyphs and bits of broken pottery can be found throughout the park. Talk about some cool history facts!!


 

EAST SIDE VS. WEST SIDE


First off, it's important to note that Saguaro National Park is actually split up into two separate areas: One is in the Tucson Mountain District to the West of Tucson, while the East side lies in the Rincon Mountain District.


It would take about an hour to get from one side to another, so you'll probably want to make this an entire day trip or split it up into a couple of days if you want to visit both. I only visited the West district, and felt like it was more than enough to satisfy my wanderlust of checking out this park!



If you're curious to know the difference, the East is much larger and more mountainous, with the West being lower in elevation and is more dense. If you're looking for long, higher-level hikes, then the East may be for you. However, the West is great if you want to do some drive-through trails, or would rather not spend the entire day there.


 

MY EXPERIENCE



My visit was in November, thankfully with cooler temperatures but still fairly hot. We visited the West district and decided a few hours would be enough for us. One thing I noticed immediately was how easy it was to navigate the area - For the most part, I was able to get by without a GPS because there was plenty of signage everywhere.


The Red Hills Visitor Center is a great place to start! You can get your stamp here, check out the gift shop and see some quirky cacti.

TIP: Make sure you bring a water bottle or buy a refillable one at the gift shop! They do not sell plastic bottles and only have a water fountain.


So far on my national park journey, Saguaro National Park has become my favorite to drive through - A: Because it's HOT. and B: Because they have great paths that most standard cars can drive through! If you're looking to do one, I recommend Bajada Loop Drive - It takes about 30 minutes to get through, and there are plenty of stops to check out some trails and picnic areas!



When it comes to the scenery, you will see some absolutely stunning cacti. There are so many different shapes, types and lengths of these infamous plants. The mountains are also beautiful as well! It's amazing how the cacti are on just about every inch, including the top. That is the most you will see regarding scenery, so it's not quite as diverse as other national parks can be.


Wildlife is also another thing that you may not see as much of (Or, at least I didn't.) I was surprised too, with how open the park feels. But honestly, I was fine to not see any! Mainly because of my complete, utter fear of tarantulas, but also because there are quite a few venomous critters that crawl through here.... scorpions, rattlesnakes..... so be careful! If you're not a big pansy like me, though, I recommend going out onto some of the walking trails to see what you can find. You may even spot a jack rabbit or some regal-horned lizards!



 

MY RATING


3/5 - Scenery

5/5 - Crowds

5/5 - Accessibility

3.5/5 - Overall Impression


If you're looking for a park that is easy to get to and not overflowing with tourists, Saguaro is a perfect fit. It's just right outside of an urban area, and the roads make it an easy drive there. We hardly came across that many people while going through the trails.


I really enjoyed getting to see many beautiful cacti. But, like I mentioned above, a majority of the park will feel like you are seeing the same thing. So, just getting to spend a couple of hours here felt like enough time for me.



While Saguaro may not be my all-time favorite national park, it certainly is a beautiful one to introduce you to what the American Southwest has to offer in nature. I had a lot of fun here and was please with how easy it was to get around.




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ABOUT ME

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Hey there, I'm Shelby! Traveling has been one of my biggest passions in life, and so I'm here to share all of my great finds, tips and advice that I discover along the way. When I'm not on a plane, you can find me in Kentucky with my husband and fur child, Zoe (My adorable kitty!) 

I have always loved to write, and after many attempts at blogging again, I find myself here and inspired to share the world. My husband and I both work a typical 9 to 5, but make it a priority to plan as many trips as possible each year. I want to show others that it is totally possible to live a travel-filled life full time or on the side!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy!

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