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On my first visit to Saguaro, I didn’t get to do the Desert Discovery Nature Trail but I wanted to. So when I went with my parents in the fall, I made sure we did it.
It actually worked out that there was only one car in the parking lot so we didn’t have to go back later! We went right after stopping at the visitor center since it’s right by it.
The whole trail is flat and dirt making a loop through the desert to teach you about the flora and fauna in Saguaro National Park. There are signs along the way describing plants nearby, animals that live here, and some other fun facts.
We started out going to the left on the loop, so clockwise. I think something that made this trail more fun for me was using the app Seek by iNaturalist. This isn’t sponsored, it was just really fun and I use it all the time now.
You open it up to scan plants (and animals!!) and the app will tell you what it is! It can take a while sometimes and sometimes it just can’t figure something out but it’s still really fun to use.
This trail probably took way longer than it needed to because I was stopping so much to scan and take pictures. There are SO many different kinds of plants on this trail, I love it.
I did like the first half of the loop better but the whole thing was good. It wasn’t crazy hot while we were here but it was fairly warm. Probably in the 80s.
There isn’t any shade on the trail so it’s a little extra warm. This is a very straightforward trail since it’s short and there are no forks but it’s a good one.
I would definitely recommend taking 20-30 minutes to hike this short but sweet trail before heading over to the Hugh Norris Trail, Valley View Overlook Trail, or Signal Hill Petroglyphs.
National Park Goodies
- If you’re planning to visit three or more national parks within a year from your trip, definitely get the America the Beautiful pass. It will save you money in the long run if you’re going to more than three parks in a year. Buy the pass here.
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking on your trip, or even at home, check out AllTrails! This is my favorite app to find, keep track of, and track my hiking activity. And it’s FREE! Sign up here.
- This Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is a must-have. You get two ebooks and a planner, saving 50% by getting them as a bundle! If you want all the details, this is the bundle for you. Buy the Ultimate bundle here.
- This National Park Planner (one of the ebooks from the bundle above) is perfect if you just want some guidance in your planning. Buy the planner here.
- Get yourself a little National Park notebook to write all about your adventures while you’re on the road. These from Field Notes are all very cute! If you want one for all of the NPS sites (400+!) then this one is for you!
- Before your trip, get some national park apparel for your trip!
- Consider reading some of these books set in national parks before your big trip, on your adventure, or once you get home to take you back to the parks until next time.
Plants to see on the Desert Discovery Nature Trail in Saguaro
- Saguaro cactus (obviously)
- Brown spined prickly pear cactus
- Mesquite bushes
- Buckhorn cholla
- Christmas cholla
- Arizona pencil cholla
- Triangle leafe bursage
- Little leaved palo verde
- Desert ironwood
- And so much more!
Where is the Desert Discovery Nature Trail in Saguaro?
The Desert Discovery Nature Trail in Saguaro is just one mile down N. Kinney Rd on the west side of the park, the Mountain District. From the visitor center, it will be on your left. It’s a fairly small parking lot so you may have to come back for it if it’s full but I think it’s worth it. I love all the plants though.
How long is the Desert Discovery Nature Trail ?
This is a very short trail at just 0.4 miles and it’s a loop which is even better. The trail isn’t paved but it is flat so it’s super easy. This shouldn’t take too long to do, maybe 30 minutes but can be longer or shorter depending on how fast you walk and how much you stop.
Is the Desert Discovery Nature Trail worth it?
Yes! It’s just a short interpretive trail, basically, but I loved it. It’s pretty and great for seeing a pretty good variety of Sonoran plant life. It doesn’t take much time and makes a wonderful first hike in the west side of the park.
Have you done the Desert Discovery Nature Trail in Saguaro? What did you think of it? What is your favorite hike in Saguaro? Do you want to do this one?