Saguaro National Park offers tips to help avoid the crowds

Updated: Mar. 13, 2019 at 6:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Enjoy visiting Saguaro National Park, both east and west, but hate how packed it can be sometimes - SNP Park Rangers have a few tips to help avoid that.

“The weather is great, many schools are out on spring break, and we are seeing record visitation in both districts of the park,” said Chief Ranger Ray O’Neil, in a news release on Wednesday. “The visitor center parking lot in the Rincon Mountain District, on the east side of the city, has been particularly busy, as has the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. “

Due to the record number of visitors, parking lots and pullouts along the east side loop drive have been filling up daily, according to SNP.

In order to avoid the crowds park officials are encouraging visitors to come either before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. (if possible), enticing these early or late visits by reminding them how early hikes and sunsets are particularly beautiful times to visit the parks.

Also in an effort to reduce traffic in the parking lots, SNP has made it easier for visitors to pay entrance fees ahead of a visit or from the trailheads. This means visitors do not have to come into the visitor centers to pay the fees.

“It is a great time for a visit, but please come prepared with some patience and a plan B, just in case there isn’t parking available at that trailhead,” said Cheif Ranger O'Neil.

Visit, for more information about how to save time by paying fees remotely.

Remember as well that visitor centers are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and that the Cactus Forest Loop Drive is open to vehicles from dawn to dusk daily.

The rest of the park is open 24 hours. Entrance fees apply to enter the park from any trailhead and are $20 per vehicle, $15 per motorcycle, or $10 for individual hikers/bikers. The fee is good for 7 days in both the east and west districts of the park.

For more information about Saguaro National Park, please visit

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