The Desert Discovery Nature Trail At Saguaro National Park

Desert Discovery Trail at Saguaro National Park

After visiting the Red Hills Visitor Center, we set out on the Bajada Loop Drive, a scenic 6.0 mile drive through the dense saguaro forests and the first stop we made was at the small roadside parking area for a short accessible trail.

The Desert Discovery Trail is a flat, 0.5 mile paved trail located in the western Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. It travels along the foot of the Tucson Mountains and features giant saguaro cacti, interpretive signs about the animals, plants, and ecology of the Sonoran Desert, and shade covers with benches so you can take a break, relax, and enjoy the beautiful landscape that surrounds you.

It can get pretty hot in the Sonoran Desert. So even at the end of November, we were all hot and sweaty and regretting our long sleeves and bought short sleeve tees at the gift shop! If you don’t do well in the heat, the Desert Discovery Trail is the perfect choice for you because it’s easy, flat, and short — and it brings you up close to tons of giant saguaros!

Our entire family really enjoyed this relaxing trail and our ability to see these amazing cacti up close, learn more about the different types of cacti in the park, and snap photos with them.

Know Before You Go

About the Desert Discovery Trail:

  • The Desert Discovery Trail at Saguaro West is a short, paved, accessible, 0.5 mile trail featuring plants of the Sonoran Desert.
  • Trail guides are available in braille and cassette tape formats at the Visitor Center.
  • The trail is located off the scenic 6.0 mile Bajada Loop Drive.
  • Pets are allowed only on roadways, picnic areas, and two paved trails — the Desert Ecology Trail and this trail, the Desert Discovery Trail. Pets must be on a leash of no more than six feet at all times.

About Saguaro National Park:

  • Saguaro National Park is open 365 days per year. You can walk or bike into the park 24 hours a day. Vehicle access is from sunrise to sunset daily.
  • Admission to the park is $15.00/vehicle, $10.00/motorcycle, or $5.00/person and $5.00/bicycle. Free admissions days are offered on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the first day of National Park Week, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day.
  • The national park is split into two separate sections, one on each side of the city of Tucson, Arizona in Pima County: the Rincon Mountain District to the east and the Tucson Mountain District to the west.
  • Red Hills Visitor Center in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park is located at 2700 North Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85743. It is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and closed on Christmas Day.
  • View maps of Saguaro National Park’s two scenic loop drives and numerous hiking trails and download the park newspaper.
  • There are no concession stands, snack/soda machines or restaurants in either section park. Water fountains are found at both visitor centers and only there.
  • There is little to no cell reception of service through the entire national park.
  • All resources (living and non-living) are protected in the National Park. Picking/taking of any resource is prohibited.

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