Arizona

Drive the Cactus Forest Loop in Saguaro's Rincon Mountain District

8 Miles Total - 550 ft gain - Loop Trail

Originally added by Edward Webb

Found in Saguaro National Park's East Rincon Mountain District, this eight-mile loop can be seen via two or four wheels. It's a great introduction to the desert environment found in both the east and west districts of Saguaro National Park.

Saguaro National Park is split into two different "districts" found east and west of Tucson. In the East-Rincon Mountain District you can find over 130 miles of hiking trails. However, for folks who don't have much time in the park, are with friends and family who aren't hikers, or are literally just driving through, the Cactus Forest Loop is the perfect activity.

Note: The visitor's center is outside the fee entrance station for the park. If you wish to drive or cycle the loop, you'll need to pay a park entrance fee. Or better yet, bring your America The Beautiful Annual Park Pass!

There are multiple stops along the loop to get out, read about the desert ecology, and to take photographs. The loop is a beautiful scenic introduction to Saguaro National Park and should be on everyone's to-do list if visiting the Rincon Mountain District.

Bonus: there are also two picnic areas along the loop. Bring a meal to share with the family!

On my visit to Saguaro National Park I also witnessed quite a few cyclists taking on the loop. There are a couple sections that have pretty steep hills if you're not a full time cyclist, so bring lots of water. However it would a great activity for a family.

And since everyone should become a Junior Ranger, you can also take this time to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet while you're at the visitor's center. You'll find several answers for the activities along the Desert Ecology Trail found on the north end of the loop. 

Make sure you're out of the loop before the fee station closes for the day. I heard a Park Ranger tell someone they needed to be out or they would be locked in the park for the night! 

Read More

Tags

Cycling
Chillin
Photography
Yoga
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Groups
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

A Favorite in Tucson

Love this drive! It’s a great short loop of you have guests around or you’re looking for a bit of outdoors time passing through (close to the airport). Go at sunrise or sunset for the best opp. to spot wildlife - antelope ground squirrel are THE cutest.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Tucson, Arizona

Under Canvas Tucson

Accommodations:Safari tents starting at $159 per night  (4 person max)Safari with 3 twin beds starting at $159 per night  (3 person max)Safari with adjacent Hive starting at $189 per night  (6 pers...

From $159/night

Tucson, Arizona

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Cactus Ramada 1

Overview Cactus Ramada 1 is a reservable group picnic site within the extremely popular Sabino Canyon Recreation Area at the edge of Tucson, Arizona. The facility is accessible and can accommodate ...

Tucson, Arizona

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Cactus Ramada 2

Overview Cactus Ramada 2 is a reservable group picnic site within the extremely popular Sabino Canyon Recreation Area at the edge of Tucson, Arizona. The facility is accessible and can accommodate ...

Tucson, Arizona

Molino

Overview Visitors are drawn to Molino Campground for its group camping area, scenic mountain surroundings and hiking and mountain biking opportunities. While most other campgrounds in the Catalina ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Javelina Rock

    Drive through the gate of Saguaro National Park and continue straight onto Cactus Forest Drive. The 8 Mile loop takes you around to Javelina Rock parking area. Take time to enjoy this drive, it offers great views of the park and opportunities to s...

    7 miles 400 ft gain

  • Hike Bridal Wreath Falls

    Bridal Wreath Falls is a 5.6 mile out-and-back hike that takes you through a Seguro National Park to a picturesque waterfall near Tucson, AZ. Keep in mind, the waterfall is more "picturesque" if it has rained recently. This trail is NOT dog-friend...

    5.6 miles 1072 ft gain

  • Hike to Tanque Verde Falls

    This hike starts at the Lower Tanque Verde Falls Trailhead, which is a well marked dirt lot on the left side of Reddington Road. A 4x4 would probably make the last half mile or so easier when the road turns to dirt but I made it to the trailhead i...

    1.6 miles 100 ft gain

  • Hike to Seven Falls

    At the main parking lot of Sabino Canyon, there are a few different trams you can take to nearby trailheads. You have the option to either hop on a tram that will take you to the 7 Falls trailhead for $4 a person, or walk the 2 miles yourself. Onc...

    5 miles 917 ft gain