Everybody's National Parks | ENP 15.1 Saguaro: Trip Report
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  • ENP 15.1 Saguaro: Trip Report
    A record-breaking snowstorm with whiteout conditions forces Danielle, Bryan, and the girls to ditch plans to visit the Petrified Forest in northern Arizona in favor of an impromptu visit to the Sonoran Desert — and Saguaro National Park, located in southern Arizona.

    The city of Tucson, splits this park into two halves: the Rincon Mountain District to the east and the Tucson Mountain District in the west. First-timers will be amazed at the desert’s biodiversity. There’s a riot of flora and fauna here, from wildflowers to majestic seventy-foot tall Saguaro cactus to stubby nurse trees. Much of the park’s wildlife can be elusive. Birds, however, are easier to spot as many make their homes inside the park’s namesake plant.

    The east and west sides have their own robust visitor’s center with cultural exhibits and small learning gardens. Scenic drives also help you make the most of your visit. The Bajada Loop Drive takes you around the Tucson Mountain District while the Cactus Forest Drive circles the Rincon Mountain District. You can pick up trailheads or stop at overlooks along the way.

    There truly are activities for every type of park visitor, including several ADA-compliant walks. Our four-day trip included the following:

    Tucson Mountain District / West: Rincon Mountain District / East: We may not have originally planned to visit Saguaro National Park but we highly recommend that you do! A long weekend is all the time you need to enjoy this desert beauty.

    Discussion includes the following:
    • An introduction to Saguaro’s east and west districts [5:37]
    • The Hugh Norris Trail [9:28]
    • The Freeman Homestead Trail [11:50]
    • Plant life in the desert [15:58]
    • The Tanque Verde Ridge Trail at sunset [18:03]
    • Frontcountry and backcountry camping details [19:18]
    • Speedway Blvd links the east and west districts [21:12]
    • Gilbert Ray campground [21:20]
    • The desert’s vibrant bird and animal populations [22:13]
    • Saguaro and the city in one long weekend [24:26]
    • Loop drives in the east and west districts [25:15]
    • West Side recommendations [25:42]
    • East Side recommendations [26:22]
    • A kid’s eye view of Saguaro National Park - Part I: cactus hotels, Sonoran Desert signifiers, Junior Ranger responsibilities [30:01]
    • A kid’s eye view of Saguaro National Park - Part II: cactus facts, cactus nursery schools, cactus jokes [36:50]