Signal Hill Petroglyphs/ Shutterstock Image

Signal Hill Petroglyphs/ Shutterstock Image

Shaka Guide's Saguaro National Park Tour Itinerary


Short on time and want to know all the top spots to hit while you’re here in Saguaro National Park? 

Here are Shaka Guide’s curated recommendations of what you won’t want to miss, and you can do most, or even all of it, in just one day.

This tour takes you to some of the most scenic hikes, an informative visitor center, a bunch of interesting viewpoints and discovery spots, and through the unmatched grandeur of the Sonoran desert at its best!

saguaro national park tour map

1. Red Hills Visitor Center

brown visitor center

Approximate time: 10 mins

This full-featured national park visitor center has a museum, theater, exhibits, and of course, rangers who can answer your questions.

It’s also got restrooms and is the spot to pay for park entry if you haven’t already done so online.

Passes are good for 7 days in either section of the park.

Entry Fees for Saguaro National Park 

  • $25.00/normal vehicle
  • $20.00/motorcycle
  • $15.00/individual

2. Desert Discovery Nature Trail

desert at sunset

Approximate time: 30 mins

This flat, paved nature walk has lots of informative signage and is great for anyone with a stroller or walker who wants to get out of the car.

Get up close to Saguaros for the first time, learn about desert adaptations and survival, and perhaps get a peek at a roadrunner while you’re there.

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3. Valley View Overlook

plain desert overviewShutterstock Image

Approximate time: 15 mins

Just a short hike through the desert brings you to a wide, sweeping view of the western side of the valley, with spectacular saguaro stands on one side and mountain ridges on the other.

It’s a popular place for sunset picture-takers but is beautiful any time of day. 

4. Ezkiminzin Picnic Area

brick house

Approximate time: 30 mins

This site, named in honor of a local Native American chief, is a relaxing place to picnic, with several parking spots and a structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps that dates back to the 1930s.  

5. Sendero-Esperanza Trailhead and Wassen Peak

forest trail with benches beside

Approximate time: 90-360 mins

You could easily spend the whole day hiking here, but most will do a bit of the Sendero-Esperanza trail and turn around.

The intrepid will want to bring plenty of water and some snacks and take it to the Hugh Norris trail, and from there, to Wasson Peak, with incredible views the entire way.

6. Signal Hill Petroglyphs

Approximate time: 40 mins

The Hohokam culture is believed to be the origin of these remarkable petroglyphs, which you can get close to during a short walk on Signal Hill. 

The purpose of these markings scratched into desert varnish, is still a mystery, but they evoke wonder, especially when viewed with the stunning backdrop of the Sonoran Desert behind them. 

7. Brown Mountain

brown mountain overviewShutterstock Image

Approximate time: 2-3 hours

This lovely loop hike is about 4.7 miles or 7.5 km, bringing you to the summit of Brown Mountain as well as through some spectacular saguaro cactus forests, with lots of baby saguaros to spot alongside the majestic ones.

It’s exposed, with no shade at all, so you’ll need sun protection and plenty of water to do this one…but it’s worth it!

8. Gates Pass Scenic Lookout

overlook of mountains and roads from gates pass scenic overlookShutterstock Image

Approximate time: 15 mins

This winding road is one of the area’s most famous drives and snakes its way through a stunning desert, with beautiful valley views and majestic mountains as you go.

Be cautious around those hairpin curves! Sunset is particularly popular.

You can walk a short bit and get a nice view of Tucson, but as the saying goes, it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey one takes to get there.

After the last stop on the tour, we’ll guide you back to Tucson. If you’re in the area and want to continue exploring, check out the Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway Driving Tour

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Saguaro National Park Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

Ready to visit Saguaro National Park? Here’s everything you need to Know Before You Go! 


Know Before You Go, Shaka Guide's Saguaro National Park Tour

The Origins of Saguaro National Park

7 Amazing Hikes in Saguaro National Park

Things to Do in Saguaro National Park

The Ultimate Saguaro National Park Travel Guide

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