Saguaro National Park, AZ
Cactus Forest Drive
| +1 520-733-5100
Snow Falling on Saguaros, a Tucson Winter SpectacleIf, like most visitors, you head for Tucson between Thanksgiving and Easter, you're probably seeking sun and warmth while the rest of the country deals with the winter blahs. And you'll most likely find what you're looking for. There's a reason why golfers, cyclists, hikers, and runners flock to southern Arizona this time of year.
But, once or twice a decade, the lush Sonoran desert might get a snowfall—it never lasts for long, but every saguaro, ocotillo, cholla, and prickly pear cactus will be edged in ephemeral white. As soon as the sun comes up over the mountains, you'll start hearing the drip drip drip of the inevitable melting...And by the next day you're likely to be wearing shorts again.
Saguaro National Park, which flanks both the western and eastern edges of Arizona's second-largest city, is the ideal place to go for a hike in the rare desert snow. The Eastern (Rincon Mountain) division of the park has a hilly eight-mile one-way loop road with access to numerous trails. Drive slowly and yield to the runners and senior-citizen-cyclists-in-spandex with thighs of steel.
Get out and up into the saguaro-studded hills before the unlikely landscape disappears...Keep your eyes open for bobcats, mule deer, and the pig-like javelina. (You're less likely to encounter a rattlesnake in the winter months, but this is still desert wilderness.)
And if there's no snow, you might be treated to spring wildflowers. Don't forget your sunscreen...