Wild West Icon: Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

Saguaro cactus at sunset in Saguaro National Park Arizona - Happier Place

The unusual Saguaro National Park is a stunning nature getaway that’s especially enjoyable during the cooler months. Named after the iconic Saguaro cactus, it’s a must-visit for all who have dreamed of seeing the Wild West.

The large amount of tall Saguaro cacti dotting the landscape around Tucson, Arizona, make the Saguaro National Park look more like a forest than a straight-up desert.

The Saguaro cactus is America’s tallest cactus, reaching up to 40 – 60 feet (12 – 18 meters) tall with up to 25 arms. It can live up to 200 years! Saguaro cacti only grow naturally in the Sonoran Desert, which spans across parts of Arizona, California and Mexico.

The Saguaro National Park is split into two sections right outside of Tucson, Arizona: the Tucson Mountain District in the west and the Ricon Mountain District east of Tucson. Both sections of the park are accessible by car; namely the 8-mile Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive in Ricon Mountain District and the 6-mile Scenic Bajada Loop Drive in the Tucson Mountain District. Both roads offer opportunities to stop for scenic vistas, picnics and hiking trails. Some of the roads and trails are also open to cycling and horseback-riding.

Saguaro National Park isn’t just about the Saguaro Cactus. There are plenty of other cacti, succulents and even wildflowers. Spring is especially vibrant as most plants bloom. All these photos were taken (by Luci) in fall. Of course, fall is another great time to visit the Sonoran Desert, which might be a little too hot for comfort in summer.

A big draw of this U.S. National Park are the stunning desert sunsets accentuated by the mountain horizon and the iconic silhouettes of, you guessed it, tall Saguaro Cacti.

Valley dotted by Saguaro cacti outside Tucson, Arizona.
Golden hour in the valley west of Tucson, Arizona.
Iconic Saguaro cacti with and without arms in Saguaro National Park.
Iconic Saguaro cacti with and without arms in Saguaro National Park.
Crested Saguaro, Prickly Pear Cacti and Ocotillo in Saguaro National Park, Arizona.
Crested Saguaro, Prickly Pear Cacti and Ocotillo.
Funny cactus looks like elephant trunk and tusks.
Oh, you funny cactus. Pretending to be an elephant?
Fishhook Barrel Cactus in orange bloom in Saguaro National Park.
Fishhook Barrel Cactus in bloom in Saguaro National Park.
Various stages of yellow bloom on a Fishhook Barrel Cactus in autumn.
Various stages of bloom on a Fishhook Barrel Cactus in autumn.
Heart-shaped cactus in Saguaro National Park.
Heart-shaped cactus in Saguaro National Park.
Golden Hour at Saguaro Park where countless Saguaro Cacti spread across the hills and valleys.
Golden Hour at Saguaro Park where countless Saguaro Cacti spread across the hills and valleys.
Ideal time to visit Saguaro National Park is around sunrise and sunset, when temperatures are mild and the different light adds drama.
Ideal time to visit Saguaro National Park is around sunrise and sunset, when temperatures are mild and the different light adds drama.
Desert sunset over the mountains west of Tucson, Arizona.
Desert sunset over the mountains west of Tucson, Arizona.

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Saguaro cactus at sunset in Saguaro National Park Arizona - Happier Place

Let’s inspire each other!

Have you visited Saguaro National Park, Tucson, or Arizona? How about other parks or towns along the Sonoran Desert? Do you have any tips? 

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Wild West Icon: Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

13 thoughts on “Wild West Icon: Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

  1. Wow, this is a very beautiful park. It has nature at it’s best. I love the pictures

  2. Woah! That’s really big. I have quite a number of succulent plants at home and I just love them because it’s very easy to take care of. I would love to see this Saguaro cactus. Will try to check if we can visit Arizona soon.

  3. I have never visited Saguaro National Park and did not know about the gigantic Saguaro Cactus. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a beautiful National Park. I have never been to a park this beautiful before. Love the photos a lot.

  5. A shame that I hven’t been to a western national park with all the cacti and succulents. I’d love to someday. It’s a different ecosystem.

  6. Saguaro national park is fascinating with its desert environment. The view by sunset looks so great. And I just love how the cacti plants growing there look like.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Dalene! Great to read you enjoyed the photos.

  7. Damn wish I read your post before my trip to Arizona. This looks like such an amazing place, I’ll definitely check it out on my next trip.

    1. Hope you get to go on your next Arizona trip. There are so many amazing places to see in that state. I’m hoping for a return trip soon, too!

  8. Such a beautiful place. I find the photos of the cacti fascinating. I think Arizona is a bit too hot for me, so I’d have to visit during the early spring or late fall.

    1. Thank you so much, Mary. Yeah, daytime Tucson is crazy hot a large part of the year. Even in early October it was still 100F during the day – but perfect around sunset! Right now in early December it’s only in the upper 60s.

  9. Beautiful pictures! I can’t wait to finally make it to the west coast. This is on my bucket list for sure!

    1. Thank you, Hailey. Hope you make it out west!

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