For the average family, when visiting Saguaro National Park in Arizona, you’ll need one full day to see the whole park. Or, because the park is divided in half by the city of Tucson, you can break it up and visit Saguaro East one day and Saguaro West the next day. This will allow you to visit the park in the morning before it gets too hot, and spend the afternoon exploring the other nearby attractions like Old Tucson Studios, the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, the Pima Air & Space Museum, and Mission San Xavier del Bac.
We visited the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro West first, stopping in the Red Hills Visitor Center before beginning the 6.0 mile Scenic Bajada Loop Drive — it’s the best way to see everything in this part of the national park.
Valley View Overlook Trail
After walking among the enormous saguaro cacti on the Desert Discovery Trail, we drove a bit further to the trailhead for the Valley View Overlook Trail.
The Valley View Overlook Trail is a relatively easy, 0.4 mile out and back trail, totaling 0.8 miles, that offers spectacular views of the mountains, the Sonoran Desert, and expansive saguaro forests.
The trailhead is right off the Bajada Loop Drive about 3.0 miles north of the Red Hills Visitor Center, but there isn’t much parking! Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the Valley View Overlook Trail heads west from the trailhead and features informational signs along the trail that identify the different cacti and plants.
On this hike, you’ll drop down to and cross Bajada Wash, at times navigate areas where the trail is a little rough and uneven, and climb out of the wash to the ridge and overlook. The climb does include stone steps, but overall it’s very gradual and not very steep.
At the overlook, there is one bench facing the trailhead that provides an impressive view of the valley full of saguaro cacti you just walked through. There is also bench facing a different direction that provides breathtaking panoramic views of the beautiful Avra Valley below and Picacho Peak and Newman Peak to the north.
Before heading to out next destination, the Signal Hill Petroglyphs, we all took advantage of the cool breeze blowing and enjoyed taking a short break and relaxing on the benches and we looked out at the gorgeous views.
Know Before You Go
About The Valley View Overlook Trail:
- The Valley View Overlook Trail at Saguaro West is 0.8 miles round trip and provides a spectacular view of Saguaro Cacti, Avra Valley, Picacho Peak, and distant mountain ranges.
- The trail is located off the scenic 6.0 mile Bajada Loop Drive and the parking area is very small.
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.
- Pets are allowed only on roadways, picnic areas, and the two paved trails — the Desert Ecology Trail and the Desert Discovery Trail. Pets must be on a leash of no more than six feet at all times.
- All resources (living and non-living) are protected in the National Park. Picking/taking of any resource is prohibited.