Outdoor Activities

Palo Verde
A palo verde tree flowering in spring

NPS Photo

Exploring the Outdoors

Monthly Programs

We offer a wide variety of programs throughout the year in both districts of the park. From ranger talks around our gardens to night hikes through the cactus forest, you are sure to find an experience to enjoy! Guided programs are a wonderful way to learn about Saguaro National Park. To see a complete list of programs offered, visit our calendar.

Cactus Gardens

At both the Rincon Mountain District (East) and the Tucson Mountain Distrcit (West), we have cactus gardens just outside our visitor centers. Come learn about the plants of Saguaro National Park through interpretive signs and ranger-led programs. See some of the common plants up close, and get photo opportunities of our iconic saguaro. The saguaro in the cactus garden of the east district is as old as the Park Service itself! In the west district, visitors get breathtaking views of the Tucson Mountains and the dense cactus forest.

Rocky views from the backcountry in Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park
Views from the backcountry in Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park

NPS Photo

Backcountry Adventures

The Saguaro Wilderness Area was officially designated as wilderness in 1976. This large, roadless backcountry consists of 57,930 acres within the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. It is bounded on three sides by the 38,590 acre Rincon Mountain Wilderness Area, which lies within the Coronado National Forest.

Looking for an adventure? An extended hike into the rugged wilderness brings wonderful opportunities as well as challenges for the adventurous hiker. An overnight trip into Saguaro's wilderness can take you from 3,000' elevation to over 8,000' in about 15 miles.

Permits are required for backcountry camping in the park. Permits may be obtained up to 2 months in advance, but no later then 12:00 noon on the day of the trip. There are no accomodations for any vehicle camping (including RV). All campsites must be reached by foot. Check out our camping page for more information. Happy hiking!

Petroglyph of a spiral shape
Petroglyph at Signal Hill in the Tucson Mountain District of the park

NPS Photo


In the Tucson Mountain District (West), just north of the Signal Hill picnic area is the largest petroglyph site in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park (SNP). The Signal Hill Petroglyph Site occupies a small but very distinct rocky hill that is about 200 feet in diameter at its base and is 40 feet high. The site consists of over 200 prehistoric Native American petroglyphs, many of which can be viewed from the visitor trail that ascends the hill (including the spiral design in the photograph at left). These petroglyphs were created from between about 550 to 1550 years ago.

Petroglyphs, which fall under the common, all-inclusive term “rock art," are a global phenomenon. The oldest known rock art are cave paintings found in Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa that date from the Upper Paleolithic period, 35,000 to 40,000 years ago.

the cactus forest is lit by the colors of sunset with mountians and clouds in the distance
Sunset views from the Tanque Verde Ridge trail in the Rincon Mountain District

NPS photo / T. Wiewel


Rincon Mountain Distraict (east)

In the east district, the best places to view the sunset are located within our scenic loop drive, but the gates to the road do not close until 8 pm, so you will have plenty of time to exit the park after viewing the sunset. One of the best places for sunset viewing is along the Tanque Verde Ridge trail. From the Javelina Picnic Area, the trailhead is on the south side of the parking area. Hike up about .25 miles to a rocky outcopping to get gorgeous views out to the west. If you want to hike a little farther, at .75 miles into the trail, there is another rocky outcropping that sits you a bit higher in elevation than the first overlook. Another great spot for the sunset is at the Javelina Rocks pull-out along the scenic loop drive. At the overlook, you are welcome to follow the footpaths around the area and up atop the rocks themselves to view the sunset.

Tucson Mountain District (west)

In the west district, Gates Pass (the western end of Speedway Blvd.) is the ideal spot for a sunset. This is in Tucson mountain Park, a few miles southeast of the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. There is a parking lot at the top of the road in Tucson Mountain Park, but this closes just after sunset. Keep in mind that vehicles over 25 feet in length are not recommended as it is a steep, winding road to and from the overlook.

Last updated: May 2, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730


520 733-5153

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