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  • Steve Goldsby

Saguaro National Park

Depending on who you ask, it's pronounced sa-GWA-roh *or* alternatively sa-WAH-roh.


There is both an EAST and a WEST part of the park. Tuscon lies right in the middle of the two. Due to time constraints, I focused on Saguaro West, aka the Tucson Mountain District. Given that we are in the middle of summer, with clear skies, blinding sun and >100 degree temperatures, there weren't many people in the park ;-)



Forward Operating Base

I decided to stay at the Tucson Lazy Days KOA. This place is NICE! It has every kind of parking spot you might want from pull throughs and back ins for busses, as well as various smaller spots for two-behinds. They even close to 100 covered spots. The "cover" is a 30' high series of solar arrays. The smaller spots have neat features like cookout areas, balconies and pet areas. And throughout the park there are small putting and chipping areas for golfers.


Smith and Wesson loved the Speedway. Highly recommended!





There are signs everywhere about "no pets left in vehicles", which I get in principle. But since I have a fancy truck with an air conditioner, it seemed a little silly. So the first day we drove the Bajada Loop, and the second day I left them at the bus. My plan was to hit as quickly as possible the following:


  • Bajada Loop Drive

  • Valley View Overlook Trail

  • Wasson Peak

  • Signal Hill Picnic Area

  • Desert Discovery Nature Trail



Bajada Loop Drive

This is a fun, scenic 6-mile drive. It's a a dirt road but well maintained. The posted speed limit is 20, but since I was in the pickup in 4WD, I went a little faster. I came in off the Hohokam Road side. The back side of Bajada loop is one way only and quite narrow. There are a few pullouts where you an look out over Tucscon in the distance. Them mountain range is gorgeous.





Valley View Overlook Trail

This is a short, easy trail that gets you in the thick of the Saguaro cactus, ironwood trees, etc. It's just under a mile with some elevation changes. If you take your time and stay still from time to time, you'll see an occasional woodpecker or snake.






Signal Hill Petroglyphs and Picnic Area

This is a short half mile trail round trip. It's a small hike down and then back up to the picnic area and further up to the Petroglyphs. These were drawn by the Hohokam people some 800+ years ago.





Desert Discovery Nature Trail

This is another short 1/2 mile tail, almost perfectly flat. It's paved, which seems odd. Lots of little signs calling out the various plants and wildlife and a little history. There were only a couple of other folks here, so it was amazingly quiet and it was nice to just pick a spot, stand still, and watch the wildlife.





Wasson Peak

This is an 8 mile round trip hike, rated Strenuous. If you recall my 8 mile hike at Guadalupe Peak, you can understand why I passed on this one. It was 103 degrees in the shade and I only had 30oz of water. Pass.




Worth it?

It's a bunch of dirt, rock and cactus. There's only so much to see. But the views from high vantage points looking out over the plains with the mountains in the distance are absolutely amazing. It's worth the visit!

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rickfleming78
Jun 23, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great review, thanks Steve.


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davehein
Jun 22, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

It's like going on holiday every time I read one of these 😁

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