Saguaro National Park – Rincon Mountain District (the East side)

The morning was cold and drizzly, but we were not deterred and set out early to head into Saguaro National Park! The park is divided into two parts, separated by the city of Tucson, so of course we had to visit both sides. Depending on who you ask, you will get different answers regarding which side is the better side to see. So we started out on the East side, called the Rincon Mountain District. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend there and weren’t able to do any hiking, but we drove the scenic loop, and the sites were beautiful! The loop itself isn’t very long, and you could probably do the whole thing in around 30 minutes if you drove straight through, but it took us a couple hours because we stopped at every scenic viewpoint and got out of the car and explored them all. I am glad we did that, so at least we were able to set foot on the ground in the park. Plus getting off the beaten path always provides some incredible scenery!

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It was surprisingly cold all morning, so I am glad I brought a jacket! Desert weather can be really unpredictable though, so I recommend dressing in layers. In the earlier part of the day, I was pretty cold wearing shorts, but by the afternoon, I was really glad, because it got hot! And I was also glad to be wearing a hat to protect my pale Celtic complexion.

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I found this park to be exceptionally beautiful. Maybe it’s my southern CA spirit, but there is something about deserts that just speaks to my soul. The combination of their vastness, their ability to persevere under the harshest climates, and their solitude makes desert landscapes one of the most awe-inspiring sights in our country.

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With my parents and my sister. It was such a nice little family trip!

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Highlights from the East side of the park: the scenic drive had lots of scenic viewpoints with parking areas so you could get out and walk around. There were also picnic areas, bathrooms, and hiking trails along the loop. In addition, the cactuses in this half of the park were really old, making them impressively large. They looked like every stereotypical cactus you have ever seen. Which was pretty cool to see in real life. Overall, I enjoyed this half of the park better than the West side, which will be covered in my next post!

Author: Natalie Bates

LA-based freelance writer | Blogger | Craft beer drinker | Rock 'n roll girlfriend | Adventurer | Lover of tattoos, red lipstick, and popcorn | World traveler | Compassionate human | Photography enthusiast | Eco warrior | Celtic babe ❤️

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