Are you planning on day hiking in Saguaro National Park? Follow along with our hike in this cactus-lovers paradise!
I still can’t pronounce Saguaro correctly.
Google tells me it’s “Suh-Waa-Roe” … but I keep accidentally calling it “Sah-Gua-Roe.”
It’s a problem.
But not a big one, and I’m not going to worry about it.
We visited Saguaro on one of our cross-country camping and hiking trips, and I’m still excited about those giant cacti.
They are– SO COOL.
Not everything went smoothly when we went hiking in Saguaro National Park, but we still had fun!
Planning your next trip? Check out my favorite camping and hiking gear.
When Should I Go Hiking in Saguaro National Park?
Go in winter. Seriously.
As with most of Southern Arizona, the desert hikes are best from November to March.
Summer starts a lot earlier in Tucson, Arizona than it does in most of the country.
We severely underestimated the brutal May heat in Saguaro National Park.
Of course, we knew it would be hot, but both the husband and I are used to desert hiking.
Together, we’ve hiked Arches National Park, hiked to the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, and did the longest trail at White Sands National Park— all in hot weather, and didn’t think it would be a problem.
We started hiking before dawn, but the temperatures quickly reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
There was little to no shade available during the entire hike.
If you visit Saguaro in winter and want more hiking ideas, try driving towards Phoenix. I love hiking Camelback Mountain (in downtown Phoenix) and the Siphon Draw Trail, Hieroglyphic Trail, and Silly Mountain east of Phoenix.
Douglas Spring Trail to Bridal Wreath Falls
We picked a 5.6 mile scenic trail on the east side of Saguaro National Park.
As we hiked in the pre-dawn darkness, we raced the sun as it rose higher and higher in the sky, and made the day hotter and hotter.
But I still made time to pose like a cactus for photos.
Along the path, we passed SO MANY cacti– big ones, little ones, and everything in between.
And happily, a lot of the cacti (including the giant Saguaro cacti) were in full bloom!
A few miles in, we spotted the sign for Bridal Wreath falls at a 3-way junction.
The falls should’ve been about 1/4 of a mile farther…
But we kept walking, and walking, and walking.
Finally we realized…
We were lost.
Yes, we were still on a trail, but definitely not the right trail.
Quickly, we decided to turn around and head back the way we came.
Later we realized that we must’ve taken a wrong turn at the 3-way junction, and were headed towards the Douglas Spring campground instead of the falls.
So– if you take the Douglas Spring path towards Bridal Falls– when you get to the junction– remember this:
The path to the left goes to Ernie’s Falls, the path straight ahead (but sort of to the right) goes to the Douglas Springs campground, and the path that’s a sharp right goes to Bridal Wreath Falls.
And of course, if you get lost, you can simply turn around and go back the way you came.
Even though we didn’t make it to the falls, the views were incredible, and we spotted some freaky desert wildlife– including a gila monster and some pretty blue and yellow lizards!
I didn’t get a photo of the gila monster. I was too busy being terrified.
Have you been to Saguaro National Park? What was your favorite part?