When you think of the American West, this is likely the terrain you picture in your mind. Known for the cactus that gives it its name—the prickly, multi-armed plant towering over the scrub brush and smaller cacti—Saguaro National Park is a desert wonderland, filled with unique flora and fauna.
Most visitors drive the 8-mile loop around the eastern half of the park, but with so many curves and undulations, a bike or e-bike is the most fun way to experience it. It’s also the most practical, as many of the trailheads along the road have limited parking spots.
The western half of the park has better hiking options. My favorite is the 5-mile (roundtrip) Sendero-Esperanza Trail, which ascends up multiple switchbacks to a ridge with gorgeous panoramic views of the valley below.
Although not technically a part of the national park, the nearby Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-visit, especially with kids. See mountain lions and Mexican wolves in their natural habitat, as well as lush botanical gardens filled with native plants.
How to Get There By RV
Interstate 10 runs to the north of the western half of Saguaro National Park and to the south of the eastern half. The city of Tucson bisects the park, making it a convenient home base for a weekend trip.
Where to Stay
There’s no RV camping inside the national park. It might lack most amenities, but the Old Ajo Highway dispersed camping area has great views of surrounding cacti and is located close to the park, fairly level, and—best of all—free.
Located a bit further than 7 miles from the eastern half of the national park’s entrance, Cactus Country RV Resort is an ideal camping spot for those looking to bike into the park and explore the nearby roads on two wheels; the RV park is filled with high-end road and mountain bikes. The park is geared to RVers that are 55 years old and up, but as long as you’re not causing a ruckus, you likely won’t need to show your AARP membership card to spend a night or two. I managed to snag a spot for a mid-week stay in late November, but the park often fills up fast with snowbirds.