I arrived at the Red Hills Visitor Center on the West side of Saguaro National Park around 230pm. I wanted to hike and see the park, but was worried about the early December sunset at 515pm.
I decided on hiking the beautiful Hugh Norris Trail and seeing how far I could get. This trailhead is located off of the Bajada Loop Drive.
It didn’t take long to find the trailhead and start hiking. I quickly realized that the trail pretty much goes up indefinitely, but that was good since the return trip would be faster. I took a series of pictures as I ascended to the first pass.
Giant 30-40 foot saguaros were everywhere! There was a cool rock formation, similar to a hoodoo, off to the right as well.
The sun was getting lower in the sky by now with a pretty orange glow starting to appear on the clouds behind me.
At the top of the first pass were several large rocks that you could scramble and take in some gorgeous 360 degree views. Of course, I took advantage of that. Off in the distance you could see mountain ranges all around me.
I hurried on through the similarly spectacular terrain, glancing over my shoulder repeatedly at the sun setting creating orange and pink stripes across the sky. Soon the dirt seemed to change to a more yellowish tone and off to the right was a fenced off hole in the ground. I wasn’t sure if it was an old mine, a cave, or the den for a mountain lion. I didn’t tarry long. Almost immediately after the “big hole” as I dubbed it was my turnaround point at the trail interjunction with the Esperanza Trail.
I had made it 2.7 miles with a return trip looming of another 2.7 miles with a race against the setting sun. Fortunately for me that included non stop views of the sun setting which made the hike all that more enjoyable.
Man what a great hike! I was able to do the 5.4 miles in about 2 hours and 10 minutes which could have been faster if I hadn’t stopped to take so many pictures. If you are in Saguaro definitely hike this trail. Thanks for reading. rk
We’ve shared the sunsets in Saguaro National Park before, but they never seem to disappoint. I caught this one a few days ago off of the Bajada Loop Drive. rk
Similar to yesterday’s top 5 National Parks feature, by their very nature all National Parks have amazing sunrises and sunsets. Having said that, some are a little better than others. Without further ado, here is today’s list.
5) Shenandoah National Park: Fighting off strong challenges from Canyonlands National Park and Haleakala National Park is Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah’s Skyline Drive runs north/south atop the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains giving a gorgeous sunrise on one side of the road and an amazing sunset on the other side. Fog is common in the mornings creating a fabulous sunrise.
Sunrise in Shenandoah National Park.
4) Acadia National Park: Next on this list is Acadia National Park. From the summit of Cadillac Mountain you can be the first in the USA to see the sunrise. Really the views from any of the mountains in this park are amazing.
View from Champlain Mountain.
3) Grand Canyon National Park: 3rd on our list is also one of the most visited. Sunrise and sunset bring out amazing colors in the rocks that washed out by the bright sun during the day.
2) Saguaro National Park: The final two entries on our list are very close. Both are amazing and beautiful. At #2 is Saguaro National Park. A sunset here with a giant saguaro cactus in the foreground is almost as good as it can get.
Saguaros can grow over 40 feet tall!
1) Joshua Tree National Park: California’s Joshua Tree National Park has the best sunsets in the National Park system. Look at this sunset and try to disagree. Congratulations Joshua Tree National Park!
Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park.
Fellow blogger, Josh, returned to Saguaro National Park this week. Unfortunately this time without yours truly, It looks like he had as nice of weather as we had 2 years ago.
Spring 2018 (like yesterday!)
Typical view in Saguaro National Park
I have a friend who lives in Phoenix who considers the saguaro cactus to just be another plant, like I would consider a pine tree here in Georgia to be unremarkable. However, I remember how excited I was the first time I saw a saguaro in Arizona. It is such an iconic symbol of the west. rk
near Dragoon Arizona
Pictures like the one above make me think of some of the classic cartoons of my youth and the beautiful backdrops of the American West used by the cartoonists drawing my Saturday morning entertainment. I thought it would be interesting to try and identify the exact inspiration for some of my cartoon favorites.
Yogi Bear – Yellowstone National Park. That is obviously way too easy to identify. Jellystone = Yellowstone NP. Not to mention, what a great place to have a picnic.
Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner – Monument Valley. That beautiful background scenery must be Monument Valley in southern Utah. Interesting side note, Monument Valley is not part of the National Park system. It is actually a Navajo Tribal Park.
Speedy Gonzalez – Saguaro National Park. Every time you see Speedy you see those Saguaro cactus in the background. The Saguaro only grows from Tucson up to the Phoenix area.
Saguaro Cactus in Saguaro National Park
Scooby Doo, Where are You – California. The original hipster detectives must be from California. That whole first season in 1968-1969 was set in California including notable episodes like the Miner 49er, Foulplay in Funland, and the one with the ghost of Captain Cutler in that glowing deep sea dive suit.
Quick Draw McGraw – Southwest Texas. Probably near some abandoned ghost town between Big Bend and Guadalupe National Parks.
Honorable Mention: Bugs Bunny – Albuquerque NM. How can you forget Bugs making that wrong turn in Albuquerque.
Honorable Mention #2: Not a cartoon, but who hasn’t ridden Thunder Mountain at Disneyland or Disneyworld and not seen the resemblance to Bryce Canyon in Utah?
Honorable Mention #3: Not a cartoon of my youth, but the Disney made Cars movie with Lightning McQueen is set on old Hwy 66 somewhere in Arizona. Have you seen Cars Land at California Adventure? Wow!