We do not inherit the
earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from
our children.
- Native American Wisdom

Tips for Visitors

Saguaro National Park consists of two districts:  Saguaro West (Tucson Mountain District) and the much larger Saguaro East (Rincon Mountain District).  The two districts are separated by the City of Tucson and are about 30 miles apart. Travel time between districts is approximately one hour.

The RMD front gate is open from 5:00 AM to 8:30 PM. The park is always open, except under emergency conditions. You can walk or bike into the park 24 hours a day. At TMD the Bajada Loop Scenic Drive (Golden Gate Road and Hohokam Road) is open to vehicles daily daylight hours.

The Visitor Centers are open in the summer (June 1 - September 30) from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. In the winter (October 1 - May 31) they are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They are closed on Thanksgiving Day and December 25.

Entrance fees are $25 for private vehicles and are valid for 7 days. Vehicle permits for motorcycles are $20 and entrance fees are $15 for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrian riders.

Many people believe that the best season in the Sonoran Desert is from October through April, when high temperatures are usually in the 60s and 70s; nighttime temperatures in this period, however, can fall below freezing.

From May through September, daytime temperatures can often exceed 100 degrees F.

Rainy seasons occur twice a year:  there are short, but sometimes violent, thunderstorms from July through September and gentle rains are possible from January through March.  Fewer than 12 inches of rain falls in a typical year.  During thunderstorms, both lightning and flash floods pose threats -- so visitors should avoid open and low-lying areas.

Hiking and other strenuous activities in extreme heat can be hazardous;  visitors should hike early, pace themselves, rest often, and always drink at least one gallon of water per person per day.  Use sunscreen and wear a hat with a full brim.

The Park is a sanctuary for all plants and animals -- so visitors must leave them undisturbed.  To avoid encountering venomous rattlesnakes, scorpions, and Gila monsters, carry a flashlight at night and avoid putting your hands and feet under rocks or in other hidden places.

Spring wildflower blooms vary with elevation, temperature and seasonal rainfall -- but are usually best from late February through early April.  Snakes usually begin coming out of hibernation in March or April.  Nocturnally-blooming cactus plants (including saguaros) usually flower in May and June;  saguaro fruit also ripens in June.  August (and the summer monsoon rains) means flowering of barrel cactus, aster, trailing four-o'clocks, morning glories, and summer poppies.

Pets are allowed in the Park only on roadways and at designated parking and picnic areas.  Pets are not permitted on trails or inside either visitor center.  Pets must be leashed at all times, and should never be left unattended inside vehicles.

Finally, visitors should be aware that there are no campgrounds or RV facilities in the Park.  Overnight backpacking is allowed only in the (east) Rincon Mountain District at one of six designated campsites -- and an advance permit is required.

Learn more by checking out the Park's website at http://www.nps.gov/sagu/