Saguaro National Park Travel Guide
My first tip is to not get food poisoning while visiting Saguaro National Park. Trust me on this it is not the best place to have this happen. You see there is only 1 bathroom along the scenic drive at the east portion of the park. When both you and your wife end up with food poisoning, and there is only 1 bathroom and you are surrounded by saguaro cactuses…well you can imagine what fun that morning was.
Keep an eye out for Gila Monsters
We had the opportunity to photograph them crossing the road and along the side of the road during our visit to the park.
You can print the current park brochure before your visit here. This will give you up to date information on programs being offered and things to do in the park.
Bring water with you or a water bottle. Most of the National Park stores no longer sell water. There are water filling stations at the visitor center and bike ramada in RMD.
Pack sunglasses or a hat! It can be crazy bright and sunny in the park. Sunscreen is also your friend.
Africanized honey bees also are known as Killer Bees are found in the park! Be aware of your surroundings and listen for hive activity. If you are attacked get the heck out of there as quickly as you can while protecting your face and head! The bees will stop attacking when you are 1/4 to 1/2 mile away from the hive. YES that far away!
Don’t play with cactus! See our post on what happened while we were at Joshua Tree to see just how painful a Cholla Cactus barb can be.
Drones can not be flown within the National Park.
How much does it cost to visit Saguaro National Park?
Saguaro National Park Weekly Pass –
Saguaro National Park Individual Weekly Pass – $5.00/person
Admits one individual when entering by foot or bicycle. Individuals 15 years or younger are admitted free of charge.
America the Beautiful—National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass: $80
Annual pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for national parks and other federal fee areas. This replaces the National Parks Pass and Golden Eagle Pass.
Annual 4th Grade Pass: Free
Annual pass covering entrance fees for 4th-grade students for 2016-2017 school year.
Annual Pass for US Military: Free
Annual pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for all active military personnel and their dependents. (For active duty military personnel and dependents with proper identification (CAC Card or DD Form 1173).)
Access Pass: Free
Lifetime admission and discount pass for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.
Senior Pass: $10
Lifetime admission and discount pass for US citizens or permanent residents who are age 62 or older.
Free Entrance Days in 2017 The National Park Service offers the following Entrance Fee Free Days this year:
- January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- February 20: Presidents’ Day
- April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
Other fees such as reservation, camping, lodging, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
How do I get to Saguaro National Park?
Eastern portion of the park – Rincon Mountain District: 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, Arizona 85730
Travel east on Broadway or Speedway Boulevard to Freeman Road (turn right on Freeman Road). Drive south on Freeman Road (4 miles [6.5 kilometers] from Speedway, 3 miles [5 kilometers] from Broadway) to Old Spanish Trail. Turn left on Old Spanish Trail. Drive .25 miles (.4 kilometers) southeast on Old Spanish Trail to the Park entrance on the left side of the road.
Western Portion of the park – Tucson Mountain District: 2700 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85743
Travel west on Speedway Boulevard. At the junction of Camino de Oeste, Speedway Boulevard will change names to Gates Pass Road. From this junction, drive 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) west on Gates Pass Road until it ends at Kinney Road (turn right on Kinney Road). Drive 3 miles (5 kilometers) north on Kinney Road to the Park entrance (entrance will be on the right side of the road). Vehicles exceeding 12,000 pounds GVWR are prohibited on Gates Pass Rd.
Where are the Saguaro National Park Visitor Centers?
Red Hills Visitor Center (Saguaro West) and the Visitor Center (Saguaro East) Rincon Mountain District
Visitor Center are open 364 days per year.
Monday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed Christmas day)
Where can I find out about staying/camping in Saguaro National Park?
Saguaro National Park has no campgrounds that are accessible by vehicle. Backcountry camping is available in Saguaro East only. Primitive camping is available in the Saguaro Wilderness Area, located in the Rincon Mountain District, and requires a camping permit. There are many public campgrounds available nearby. The closest campground to the Rincon Mountain District is found on the Coronado National Forest. Call (520) 760-2301 for more information.
Is there a Junior Ranger Program at Saguaro National Park?
Yes! The park offers both a Junior Ranger program and a Not So Junior Ranger program! You can learn more about both programs and the Self-Guided Discovery Day Packs that are offered at the park here.
Can I bring my Dog/Pet with me to Saguaro National Park?
Pets are allowed only on roadways, picnic areas (except Mam-A-Gah picnic area in the Tucson Mountain District-west) and paved trails (Desert Ecology Trail & Desert Discovery Trail). Pets must be kept on a leash that does not exceed 6 feet at all times.
Be prepared for cactus spines, thorny brush, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and open mine shafts within the park. Take extra water for your pet and do not leave them in your vehicle.
Saguaro National Park Facts
Saguaro National Park is a 91,442 acre park
President Herbert Hoover created Saguaro National Monument in 1933
Highest recorded temperature at Saguaro National Park was 117 degrees F. in 1990.
1,160 plant species are found in the park
6 known species of rattlesnakes can be found in the park.
The saguaro cactus can only be found in the Sonoran Desert.
Additional Resources Information