Saguaro National Park in A Day

Okay, so I will finally wrap up our Arizona trip, I swear.  But there were so many exciting photos to choose from.  And if I was being honest in my title, this would be Part I of a two-parter.  Soon, I’ll have all of Arizona out of my blogging system.

Saguaro National Park is split into two sections: West and East.  Often, I think of National Parks having been dedicated as such many, many years ago.  But Saguaro only became a national park in 1994 (’twas a national monument before that).

If you’re starting you day with a whirlwind trip through the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum like us, hit up the west side of the park first.  I loved seeing the architecture of the Visitor Center.  Of course the buildings in the parks should reflect the areas they are in, but I guess I am just getting to used to the Smokies Visitors Centers.

Stop here to pay your fees (10 dollars covers both sides of the park), grab a park map (what?  you guys don’t collect the maps from the NP/Nat’l Monuments you visit?!), and get the low down on the trails you have time to hike.

Since our time was so limited, we took the park guide’s advice and chose three very short trails to the highlights of the Western side: the Desert Discovery Trail (.5 miles), the Valley View Overlook (.8 miles), and Signal Hill Petroglyphs Trail (.5 miles).  Sure, I would have like to have logged a nice 5 mile trail in the park at least, but we just wouldn’t have seen much besides the one trail if we had done so.  Plus, this way, I could hike in the moccasins.

Desert Discovery Trail was neat, fast, paved.  If you skipped the museum on your way toward the park, then I would recommend taking a quick walk around this trail.  There are signs and labels for the type of plant life you’ll encounter.  There are also many benches scattered throughout, so it’s accessible/walkable for people of all abilities.

Clearly, we hadn’t gotten over how huge these cacti can become. :)

The Valley View Overlook was my favorite of the three trails.  For seeing so many people at the museum that morning, we were surprised by how few people walked the trails.  We met only two other folks on this trail.

(That one ^ is maybe my favorite shot from the west park adventure).

One picture of us both:

The valley view the trail is named for:

And finally we’re onto the petroglyphs trail.  These glyphs were created by the prehistoric Hohokam people.  This trail, and the picnic area nearby seemed to by much more crowded.

No, you couldn’t simply walk up to the glyphs; the pictures seem a little deceiving now that I’m looking at them.

After we finished up our drive through the west side, we were starving and tired.  We grabbed some queso fresco, coconut waters, crackers, and sweet potato chips for a little picnic a la hostel.  We took a quick nap, and cleaned up before heading out to the east side of the park to catch the horizon at sunset.

Sunsets coming your way tomorrow (or the day after or the day after…you know how I do).


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Filed under Flowers, Hiking, Inspiration, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Travel

6 responses to “Saguaro National Park in A Day

  1. I love the petroglyphs! :-)

  2. Renee Waterhouse

    Love the pics. Neat place to visit.

    • David Sarten

      Great pics. I have visited Arizona only once and knew of the Saguaro National Monument (tells you how long ago it was) but did not have time to visit it. I am still amazed at all the plant life that is able to survive in the harsh conditions of the desert (guess I am too used to the East Tennessee mountains and their abundant rainfall) and how much vibrant color is there at times. I will be loking forward to viewing the remaining pics when you post.

  3. great shots, thanks for sharing

  4. Dienna

    I love cacti. They’re so cool. One that you took a photo of looks like a pitchfork, and another one looks like a coatrack.

  5. I went there for the first time in Summer 1973. Made it back in 1999. Still beautiful.

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