Saguaro National Park West is located west of Tucson and north of Tucson Mountain Park. It occupies about 24,000 acres of the hot, dry Sonoran desert at an average elevation of around 3,000 feet. The high temperatures from May through September can exceed 100 degrees. From October through April, temperatures range from highs in the 60-70s to lows overnight of below freezing. Saguaro West is also known as the Tucson Mountain District.
Bajada Loop Drive in Saguaro West
A popular six mile dirt road loop in the foothills that offers trailheads, scenic pullouts and picnic areas. It starts 1.5 miles west of the Red Hills Visitor Center at the intersection of Kinney Road and Hohokam Road. As you are driving away from the visitor center on Kinney Road, make a right on Hohokam Road to start the loop. 4WD is not needed to drive the loop, but vehicles wider than 8 feet and trailers longer than 35 feet are not permitted.
Wasson Peak – Wasson Peak is the highest point in the Saguaro West at 4,687 feet. It offers 360 degree views of the Rincon Mountains and Tucson to the east, and the Silver Bell, Waterman and Roskruge Mountains to the west.
Red Hills Visitor Center – This is the only visitor center in the west unit and is located about 15 miles outside of the city. There are informational displays and exhibits, videos, and announcements for ranger led talks and hikes.
Valley View Overlook Trail – A .8 mile out and back that departs from the Bajada Loop Drive, 3.5 miles north of the visitor center. It crosses two washes and then ascends a ridge with tremendous views of Avra Valley and Picacho Peak.
Signal Hill Trail – The parking area for the trail and picnic area are five miles from the visitor center on Golden Gate Road. The .5 mile out and back has a small hill north of the picnic area and dozens of petroglyphs on the rocks.
Sweetwater Trail – The trailhead is on the east side of Saguaro West – off W El Camino Del Cerro. The trail is a 9.3 mile out and back to the summit of Wasson Peak. It intersects with King Canyon trail where it turns north to continue its approach to the top. It has an elevation gain of almost 2100 feet.
Hugh Norris Trail – A 9+ mile out and back trail that takes hikers up to the summit of Wasson Peak for panoramic views of the Tucson area.
Desert Discovery Nature Trail
A short .4 mile paved loop just north of the Red Hills Visitor Center. It features the park’s namesake saguaro cacti as well as information about the Sonoran Desert’s animals and plants.
King Canyon Trail
This is one of the most popular trails in the park. It is a .9 mile hike from the trailhead on Kinney Road to the stone-walled building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and petroglyphs etched between AD 300 and 1450. The building is located on a slope near Mam-A-Gah picnic area. The petroglyph rocks are in a wash downstream from the picnic area. It is a 6.5 mile out and back from the trailhead to the summit of Wasson Peak. The trailhead and parking area are across from the museum.
Ringtail Trail – A one mile trail that connects to loop opportunities with Cam-Boh Trail, Mule Deer Trail, Ironwood Forest Trail and Picture Rocks Wash Trail. It is in the north part of the West District, past the Bajada Loop, along Pictured Rocks Road. The trail can be reached from the Box Canyon parking lot.
Cactus Wren Trail – It is a 4 mile loop (with Manville Trail) or out and back. Because there is no trailhead parking at Sandario and Rudasill, most people start at Signal Hill (where the trail briefly overlaps the Signal Hill trail). Visitors enjoy the plant life of Sonoran Desert (along with the Saguaro cacti).
Sendero Esperanza Trail
Saguaro West Camping
There is no vehicle camping in Saguaro national park and backcountry camping is permitted only in Saguaro East. There are some campgrounds in Tucson – the closest public campground to Saguaro West is listed below.
Nearby Areas of Interest
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Located right outside of Saguaro West on N Kinney Rd is Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It is a 98 acre zoo, natural history museum, botanical garden, aquarium and art gallery founded in 1952. About 85 percent of the experience here is outdoors. There are two miles of walking paths through 21 acres, 230 animal species and 1,200 types of plants. It is regularly listed as one of the top ten zoological parks in the world for its interpretation and focus on the Sonoran Desert.
Gilbert Ray Campground
Tucson Mountain Park’s campground is located four miles from the national park visitor center and has 130 RV sites plus 5 designated tent only sites (tent campers can also use the RV sites). Camping is on a first-come, first served basis – reservations are not accepted.