Southern Arizona

Lost Saguaro is a little biased,  we think Arizona is pretty amazing. We have three National Parks and 18 National Monuments. 

While the Grand Canyon and Sedona  are more popular destinations and definitely worth seeing, there is so much more that Arizona has to offer.  Let’s explore Southern Arizona! Not sure where to start? Check out a sample itinerary here

Camping Close to Phoenix: 

We get a lot of renters that fly into Phoenix and do not want to start their trek north until the next day. Plus, there are a few cool areas to explore in the greater Phoenix area. For close camping be sure to check out these spots.


  • Only 45 minutes from the Lost Saguaro Shop. If you take the 60 East to Peralta Road and make a left. After the housing development and once the road becomes dirt it is a free for all with camping. Check out iOverlander for specific sites or just find a spot to boondock. This area does not have any designated campgrounds.
    •  There are a few trails on this hike including the Wave Cave and Peralta Trail. The wave cave is as the name suggests a cave with a structure that looks like a wave. It makes for really cool pictures. Peralta is a 4 mile hike that gives great views of the Superstitions and Weavers Needle 

Lost Dutchman State Park 

  • Another great camping spot close to Phoenix. There are incredible views of the Superstitions. There is a campground here and half of the sites have electricity and water hookups. There is a fee to enter as it is a state park.
    • Siphon Draw / Flat Iron hike is within this area, test your fitness and head to the top for panoramic views of the greater Phoenix area. This hike is STRENUOUS so be prepared. Go early. Bring lots of water and do not attempt this hike in the summer.​
    • If you have time drive up to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat. This drive boasts incredible views. ​

Other notable things around the Greater Phoenix Area: 

  • 4 peaks Wilderness 
  • Cave Creek Regional Park 
  • Saguaro Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake 
  • Salt River Recreation Area
    • Rent a paddleboard and go early to see the wild horses that live on the river 


The often overlooked second largest city in Arizona. Phoenix gets more attention but Tucson is a place worth visiting. They have a lively food and craft beer scene and it is steeped in history. 

Things to see and do around the Tucson area: 

  • Saguaro National Park
    • Our namesake.  This unique cacti only inhabits the Sonoran Desert. The park is broken up into East and West. They are about 40 minutes apart. There are ample hikes throughout both. If you head to the west side make sure to drive through Gates Pass. It has beautiful views. If it is your first time to the Sonoran Desert or if you have kids the Desert Museum is a great place to stop.
      • Wasson Peak Trail in Saguaro National Park West is a great trail with incredible views ​
  • San Xavier Del Bac
    • A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. This is free to enter and boasts beautiful architecture. ​​
  • Hiking in the Tucson Area: Sabino Canyon, Mt. Lemon, Catalina State Park ​
    • In Sabino Canyon: 7 falls hike ​
    • In Catalina State Park: Romero Pools 
    • For a quick in city hike Tumamoc Hill has some great views of downtown and is a paved uphill burner.
  • Be sure to check out Moto Sonora Brewing or Borderlands Brewing downtown. Mercado San Agustin has a great courtyard, two restaurants and some shops in the courtyard as well as across the street.  Tucson has an amazing food scene, El Charro Downtown, Charro Steak, Mi Ninidito,  and Floras Market are some of our favorites. 

Borderlands and East: 

  • Chiricahua National Monument
    • This place is really overlooked. It has hoodoos similar to those at Bryce. It is a bit out of they way but if you are going to be in Southern Arizona it is worth considering a stop ​
  • Bisbee and Tombstone
    • The Wild West. Bisbee is an old mining town that has since been revived. It is very similar to Jerome, AZ. It has a ton of shops, restaurants and breweries / wineries. The town is worth the drive if you are in the Tucson area. ​
    • Tombstone is on the way to Bisbee. The town itself is a little touristy but if you have never been and are interested in the history of the wild wild west it is worth a quick stop. 
  • Sonoita and Patagonia
    •  Sonoita is in the wine region of Southern Arizona. Stop through some of the vineyards and check out the beautiful scenery of the borderlands. Surprisingly, the further south you get in Southern Arizona the higher the elevation. Patagonia is a cool little town about 20 min south of Sonoita. What was once a forgotten town is now getting the love it deserves. They are building extensive trail systems in the area and there are a few cool restaurants and ​tap houses including, Patagonia Lumberco. 
  • Ruby
    • If you are looking for some camping areas south of Tucson look at 289 from I 19. This well maintained dirt road has a few established campsites and two lakes, Pena Blanca and Aravaca, that are great for paddlboarding. If you have time there is an old abandoned mining town, Ruby. It is gated and you can get a permit to view it ahead of time online. ​

Sample Itinerary 

Day 1: Phoenix to Tucson 

  • Drive to Tucson. If there is time and interest stop at the Casa Grande ruins 
  • Arrive in Tucson and head to Saguaro National Park West
    • Drive through the park ; be sure to stop at the visitors center 
    • Check out the Desert Museum if there is time or interest 
    • Hike Wasson Peak 
  • Drive to downtown Tucson and walk around, look at the murals. Check out 4th Ave.Borderlands Brewing, Pueblo Vida and Batch for some refreshments on a hot day ​
  • eat at Seis Kitchen in Mercado San Augusitin and peek in the shops across the street that are in refurbished shipping containers. Or eat at Charro Steak or El Charro for authentic Mexican Food 
  • Camp south of Tucson near Tubac 

Day 2: Tucson to Chiricahua National Monument

  • Drive around the monument and then take a hike ​
  • Drive to Bisbee, AZ
    • Explore the town, go to the museum and have dinner in Bisbee ​
    • camp near Bisbee 

Day 3: Bisbee to Patagonia / Sonoita 

  • Drive to Patagonia from Bisbee 
  • Take a hike in the area (If you are up for a challenge try Mt. Wrightston) or check out part of the Arizona Trail 
  • Grab a coffee or a beer at Patagonia Lumberco 
  • Drive up to Sonoita; go to some of the vineyards. 
  • Drive back up to Tucson. Spend the night in Tucson or if limited for time head back to Phoenix. 
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