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Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

New York City, New...
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Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

Hi all,

I am thinking of spending the better part of 2 days in Saguaro in early April. Is that too much?

Also, what are the conditions in that time of year (early April)? Is the park crowded? Is it hot and/or sunny?

Finally, since I expect to be going alone, is it safe to hike the park by myself?

Thanks

11 replies to this topic
Tucson, Arizona
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1. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

You can do either SNP east or west in 1/2 day, unless you plan on doing long hikes. In SNP East, you can hike up into the Rincon mountains and camp overnight.

It is generally safe enough, but no one should hike into the desert alone. There are just too many things that could go wrong.

tucson az
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2. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

Near SNP West is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Well worth your time.

desertmuseum.org

Boston...
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3. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

Two days seems like a lot to me.

I was just there -- in Saugaro East -- for the first time two weeks ago, and I got bored pretty quickly. The park has an odd, chopped-up feel to it. There is an 8-mile loop road with a few hiking trails leading off it and lots of cyclists and joggers. From the higher elevations, houses and buildings are plainly visible. Maybe you could hike a long trail and really get lost in the "backcountry," but this national park feels more like a state park to me -- a patch of preserved desert in the middle of a sprawling city rather than a pristine expanse of wilderness. The rangers at the visitor center are super nice and knowledgable, and perhaps overzealous. One of them told me to "watch out for increased reptile activity" because it was a windy day. I had no idea what that meant.

Tucson, Arizona
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4. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

That description is just absurd. I'm not sure how much of SNP east Majnuni actually saw. SNP east is outside of Tucson, on the far east side. Yes, from some parts (maybe the first 2 miles) of the loop road, and again during the last mile, you can see into the valley and see parts of the city. However, SNP east is part of the Coronado National Forest, much of which is designated wilderness. The area within the loop road is a small part of SNP east. All you have to do is look at a map and you will see that Majnuni is just plain wrong about SNP east. Perhaps someone who has visited PART of the park, and only ONE TIME, and who clearly does not know much about SNP, should hold their comments and defer to people who actually know what they are talking about. For reference, see this link, which shows SNP in relation to Tucson and to the Coronado National Forest.

http://www.saguaro.national-park.com/map.htm

Part way down the page is a larger map showing the supposed "few hiking trails".

Edited: 19 March 2014, 21:31
Boston...
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5. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

What's absurd is trying to censor people on a travel forum that is meant to be a free exchange of opinions and experiences. Some of the "experts" here seem to lose sight of that and end up sounding like shills for their local C of C.

Having said that, I'll recast my initial comment: unless you are planning a long hike, I don't think you'll find more than a few hours worth of things to do in SNP East. You can drive the 8-mile loop road and do some short hikes, the longest of which is less than 5 miles one way, if I remember correctly. The scenery doesn't change much, though getting off the road will allow you to see more animals. (I saw a rabbit that looked like an antelope. That was the highlight.) This is a national park in the middle of a city--that is the inescapable fact.

vcv
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6. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

I loved hiking in both the eastern and western sections of the park. I was staying on the east side of Tucson, only a few miles from the park and went out early every morning for walks. I spent only one day on the western side, but had a great hike recommended by a ranger, with spectacular views. I was there in December. April, I imagine, is even better, with lots of desert flowers. I really enjoy the desert because it's totally different from the scenery in my area.

Marina, California
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7. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

I would try doing a hike with a group or with a ranger first (events are posted on the park's web site) to see how you do, then look at doing another hike on your own. I usually always hike alone, and have rarely had issues. The majority of the trails in the area that are easily accessible are also very popular and will be quite busy in early April, which is a great time to hike. Just stick to the trail. But, with just two days (it's not too long, in fact I think you could use more), you'd likely lose one on the ranger-led/group hike, then another on the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. The latter is a must. And a group hike would be good for you because you'd be able to ask questions about the plants and animals you see along the way. It's easy to miss some really interesting things if you don't have the eye for them.

It's generally not a good idea to try and push in two longer (3+ hours) hikes in a day, especially if you're not acclimatized to the low humidity, excessive sun, and minimum 2500' elevation, but you could always do some shorter hikes. Check out the park map on the web site: http://www.nps.gov/sagu

Keep in mind also that Tucson hiking is not limited to the national parks and Sabino Canyon. There are a number of trails in the national forest, on three sides of the city, most of which reach in to the mountains.

Hope that helps in your planning. Have a nice trip!

Tucson, Arizona
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8. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

Manjuni, you are continuing to spread absolutely false information . Saguaro National Park definitely IS NOT in the middle of a big city.

I am not trying to censure you, and you are certainly entitled to share your opinions. But PLEASE refrain from presenting absolutely false information, then claiming it to be a fact. Anyone looking at the map can plainly see that Saguaro National Park is east of the city and gives way to the Coronado National Forest. You stated this as if it were a fact -- "This is a national park in the middle of a city--that is the inescapable fact." That assertion of "fact" is completely false.

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9. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

Hope you enjoyed your trip. Two days is perfect, one day for SNP East and one for SNP West. I recommend starting on the East side. Learn about the parks and the desert itself (Sonoran) and take some hikes and drive the loop. If you have time left over, a visit to Sabino Canyon is not far away and well worth it. They don't stay open all that late, so check their hours.

On day two, SNP West is my favorite. I recommend the loop there, but also taking Golden Gate Road to Picture Rocks Road, up the modest Contzen Pass and visit the Picture Rocks area after getting permission at the Redemptorist Renewal Center. Then back the same way and having a snack or picnic at Ez Kim En Zin and a wonderful CCC made camping area. This drive will really immerse you in the feeling of the desert. Don't fail to stop and hike at Signal Hill, then enjoy the Red Hills Visitor Center, a real architectural treat. If you leave time, you will want to see the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum nearby (leave an absolute minimum of 2.5 hours), and a drive through Tucson Mountain Park, and up Gates Pass (unless heights and narrow roads of about a half mile bother you). Wonderful park and view at the top.

Harleysville...
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10. Re: Is 2 days too long for Saguaro NP?

Our favorite is SNP West. We spent more time there and felt there were more cacti and great views. For east, which truly is NOT in the city, we just drove the loop road. The rangers were extremely helpful and nice but it just didn't turn us on as much as west.

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