Photo Credit: Instagram User @zalman_wainhaus
The desert is a lot like the ocean, so full of mystery and beauty that the only way to understand it is to explore it. Hiking along peaceful, sandy trails in Arizona’s warm sun is one of the best ways locals and tourists like to appreciate this unique environment.
Still, the best way to immerse yourself in the desert is by camping in it.
With an average of 286 days of sunny weather per year, Tucson is a popular town for RV camping. The Saguaro National Park extends to both sides of the city and remains one of the most popular destinations in southern Arizona to camp.
Its vast and beautiful landscape is unique to the southwest; you won’t see anything like it anywhere else in the world. Ready to see it for yourself? Read our handy guide to RV camping in Saguaro National Park to prepare.
Saguaro National Park Facts
Located in Pima County by Tucson, Arizona, Saguaro National Park is the ultimate place to see thousands of the mighty saguaro cactus. Here are some Saguaro National Park facts sure to inspire a trip out to the Old Pueblo.
Saguaro National Park is home to the United States’ most enormous cacti, the saguaro, protected both in the park and throughout Tucson.
The average saguaro cactus is 50 feet tall and weighs six tons. Their average life span is 150-175 years, but they can exceed 200 years old.
President Herbert Hoover was the one to declare this land a national monument in March 1933.
A saguaro cactus doesn’t produce flowers until it reaches 35 years old.
Saguaro National Park is home to a variety of animals that are only found in southern Arizona. Some of these animals include roadrunners, kangaroo rats, Gila monsters, and horned lizards.
The lower regions of the park are all desert land. However, the Tucson Mountain Park district reaches an elevation of 4,687 feet and has grasslands. The Rincon Mountain Park district goes as high as 8,666 feet and has much more diversity in wildlife and vegetation, including pine forest.
If a trip to southern Arizona is on your schedule, consider RV camping near Saguaro National Park. While there are no campsites that can be reached by vehicle inside the park, several nearby can deliver a similar experience to being inside it. Explore them below!
Best Saguaro National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Spending brisk, clear nights under the bright stars, purple night skies, and endless saguaro silhouettes behind the moonlight is an unforgettable experience that everyone should add to their bucket list. These Saguaro National Park RV campgrounds offer an ideal place to do just that.
Gilbert Ray Campground (Saguaro National Park West)
Amenities: Gilbert Ray Campground is one of the best Saguaro National Park RV sites. While sites vary in size, they are mostly on all-level ground. Each comes equipped with 30 amp hookups. All locations also come with a metal picnic table, fire ring and drive-thru. There are several water spigots throughout the campground, two dumping stations and a designated water area.
The bathrooms have flushing toilets but no showers. When it comes to waste, both trash and recycling options are available. Recreational hiking and biking trails nearby to take in and enjoy the desert scenery and numerous tall saguaros.
Capacity: 130 sites
More information:Gilbert Ray Campground
Justin’s Diamond J RV Park (Saguaro National Park West)
Amenities: The sites at Justin’s Diamond come with full-hookups, including 20 and 30 amp electric hookups. Visitors can enjoy free WiFi, an area to do laundry, dump stations and a trash site. The bathrooms have flushing toilets and showers.
Pets are allowed at this RV park, and they even have a dog run on-site so Rover can stretch his legs. This park is also in a great location for those who plan on taking their RV rental in Saguaro National Park for a cruise around the area.
More information: Diamond J RV Park
Rincon Country East RV Resort (Saguaro National Park East)
Amenities: Rincon Country East is one of the well-loved RV parks near Saguaro National Park. Though this is a resort geared towards 55+, families with children are welcome to stay for up to two weeks. Specific facilities, such as the pool, have age and usage restrictions.
Each site has full hookups with 30 and 50 amps, free WiFi and basic cable. Showers are on-site, as is a laundry facility, exercise room and library. For RVers who enjoy participating in recreation activities, this resort has plenty of entertainment options. Options include pickleball, a pottery room, pools, shuffleboard, billiards, bocce ball, arts and crafts rooms and more.
Capacity: 456 sites
More information: Rincon County East RV Resort
Rincon Country West RV Resort (Saguaro National Park West)
Amenities: Much like its sister site in the east part of town, the Rincon Country West RV resort welcomes families and children to stay on their grounds for up to two weeks. This is one of the RV parks near Saguaro National Park West that is conveniently close to nature and offers the luxury of superior amenities.
Sites offer full 30 and 50 amp hookups and complimentary WiFi. Unlike many RV parks, this one has showers, pools, and even a workout room to burn off those extra road-snacking calories. Other recreation facilities include shuffleboard, a pottery room, pickleball, crafts, billiards, bocce ball, and more.
Capacity: 1,083 sites
More information: Rincon County West RV Resort
Bar J RV Park
Amenities: Bar J RV park is much more intimate with fewer campsites. It’s also more rural for an authentic desert experience. While there’s no official RV camping in Saguaro National Park, this is the closest thing to it.
Each site has its own 20/30/50 amp hookups and water hookups. Beyond the laundry facility, there isn’t much more on the campground, so come equipped with what you need. Bar J RV Park is a special place to catch some Arizona wildlife in action. Plus, it is one of the top campgrounds to bring your RV rental in Saguaro National Park’s proximity.
Capacity: 13 sites
More information:Bar J RV Park
Photo Credit: Instagram User @jessej.media
Best Time to Visit Saguaro National Park for RV Camping
It wouldn’t be hard to argue that the best time of year to visit Saguaro National Park is in the winter—just ask snowbirds that come to Tucson every year. However, each season offers its own unique set of benefits.
It’s no secret that Arizona has some of the best winter weather in the country, which is part of the reason why it’s also the most crowded time of year. Since there isn’t much snow at this elevation level, accessibility is not affected during these months. If you’re lucky enough to experience snow in the desert, it makes for fantastic photographs, only to be melted away a few hours later.
While you can expect RV camping near Saguaro National Park this time of year to be relatively busy, hiking is an ideal way to break away and find your solitude. Most visitors focus on short walks and drives through the park. This means there’s plenty of space for everyone to explore.
An added benefit to spending time in Saguaro National Park during winter is that snakes and many other critters are hibernating, so your odds of running into something slithers are very slim.
Spring in southern Arizona is stunning. Some spectators argue that this is the best time to visit Saguaro National Park. The saguaro flowers and other desert vegetation bloom, painting the desert landscape with yellow, pink, white, and red flowers.
During this season, the weather is hit or miss; it could be a nice brisk day or on the warmer side, depending on the year. March through May still brings many visitors to southern Arizona, but as the sun’s heat intensifies, snowbirds pack up to leave, and tourism dies down leading up to summer.
This time of year is also suitable for hiking, but it will start to make you consider going at earlier hours to beat the heat on warmer days. The mornings are still chilly and pleasant, and while you may see lots of baby quail and bunnies in the park, it’s still not quite snake season yet. If you’re a photographer, you won’t want to miss visiting Arizona in the springtime, as the desert colors against a bright blue sky are incomparable.
Let’s be honest—Arizona summers can be brutal. The heat and dry air combination are enough to scare off anyone with even a slight intolerance for higher temperatures. But there is also something to be said for those wonderfully warm evenings in the desert after sunset.
If you’re an early riser, an Arizona summer could be your ideal camping weather due to how beautiful the desert is at early dawn. Except for monsoon season (June-September), the humidity is rather low, so the triple-digit weather isn’t as harsh as you might get in states like Louisiana and Florida. This is also a good time of year to spend time driving your RV rental in Saguaro National Park to get great views without walking out in the heat.
Hiking Saguaro National Park in the summer is more difficult than other seasons, given the weather and presence of snakes. However, it’s also the perfect time of year to take a drive throughout both sides of the park and catch some of the most amazing sunsets you’ll ever see from inside them.
If you’re traveling during the monsoon season, the frequent afternoon rains cool down the desert and produce a sensational aroma throughout the land. Despite all of this, summer is the least crowded season at the Saguaro National Park campgrounds.
It can take a little while for it to feel truly like fall in Arizona, but once it does, it’s what some consider to be the best time of the year. Much like spring, there’s a healthy mix of warm and cool days, providing lots of options for outdoor activity. The mornings are generally light jacket weather and warm up to short-sleeve weather by noon. Even though the days are starting to get shorter, there are still plenty of hours of sunshine to play with.
Fall is also the time of year that snowbirds begin their journey back to Arizona, so in addition to more city traffic in Tucson, there’s also more traffic in Saguaro National Park.
Campsites will generally begin to fill up in late October, but there are typically still plenty of places with openings. Hiking, biking and bird watching are all great activities for fall time in the park. For those reasons, fall is one of the best times to visit Saguaro National Park.
Photo Credit: Instagram User @goldentrailz
Things to Do in Saguaro National Park
If you’re on a hunt to see the best collection of cactus in the world, this is your place. Although the term ‘desert’ might bring images of bare and empty sand dunes, Saguaro National Park is anything but that. There are many things to do in Saguaro National Park. Here are some of the most popular:
Hiking trails throughout the park
Visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just outside the western park’s perimeters
Seeing the Petroglyph ruins on the Signal Hill Trail, left behind by southern Arizona’s prehistoric Hohokam people.
Watching the sunset from Gates Pass Overlook, a prime location for desert photography
Hiking or biking the Desert Loop Trail in Saguaro National Park East for some of the best scenery the desert offers.
Stopping by both visitor centers on both the East and West sides of the park
Having a picnic at one of the many roadside tables throughout the park
Tips on Visiting Saguaro National Park
As you may have heard, southern Arizona generally has a very dry climate. No matter what season you visit, bring plenty of water for your time in the park. Many unsuspecting visitors have gotten severely dehydrated by not coming prepared.
There are lots of wildlife in the park that can be considered dangerous. If you are camping, be aware of some of the larger predators (like cougars and bobcats) that come out during the night. Don’t leave trash or food in the open.
Also, bring lots of sunscreen, regardless of the season. Parts of Saguaro National Park don't provide a lot of shading, so you can get overexposed to the sun even during winter.
When hiking during the summer and early fall, pay extra attention to where you’re walking. Rattlesnakes are common to the area, and while they usually give a warning that you’re coming too close, it’s not always the case.
Lastly, if you are camping near Saguaro National park with a pet, don’t leave your furry friend outside. Coyotes and large cats are known to prey on people’s pets.
Photo Credit: Instagram User @worldtravel.bug
RV Rental for Saguaro National Park
The next time you’re ready to hit the road for a fun family vacation, consider Cruise America for your RV rental needs. There’s no better way to see the land than from the view of the open road, allowing you to experience all the hidden gems that would be missed by taking a flight to a destination.
A Cruise America RV can serve as your home away from home on the road, giving you the freedom to see what you want and when. Come browse our RV selection today and let us help you plan your next unforgettable family trip.