a saguaro cactus stand tall before a rocky mountainous background

Sedona To Saguaro National Park: How To Get There And 9 Best Road Trip Stops

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Are you wondering how to get from Sedona to Saguaro National Park?

There are a couple of different ways you can do it, but a road trip is perfect as it allows you to explore a small part of Arizona.

Along the route, there are many scenic stops and attractions to choose from that offer a variety of experiences. From awe-inspiring desert landscapes and forests to historic sites and charming towns, there is something for everyone on this fantastic road trip.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventure-filled day, our itinerary has something to offer.

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Options To Get From Sedona To Saguaro National Park Besides Driving

Let’s start by looking at the options besides driving that will get you to Saguaro from Sedona.


If you are not a fan of road trips, you can fly down to Tucson, where Saguaro National Park is located.

The closest airport to Sedona is in Flagstaff. You will need to drive about 40 minutes NORTH to catch a flight SOUTH to Tucson.

Most of the flights are indirect and have a stop in Phoenix along the way. Average flight times start at about 2.5 hours and can exceed more than 5 hours, depending on the length of layover in Phoenix.

If you add in at least an hour before your flight, the shortest time from Sedona to Tucson by plane will take 4.5 hours (1 hour to drive to Flagstaff, 1 hour before the flight, 2.5 for the shortest flight option). Times will only go up from there if you have an extended layover.

As you will discover below, this is longer than driving takes.

arch in sedona arizona, the starting point on a sedona to saguaro national park road trip


Another option is to take a bus if you don’t want to rent a car during your vacation.

Buses do not run direct between Sedona and Saguaro National Park.

So similar to the flight option, you will take a bus to Phoenix and then on to Tucson from there.

Buses are always a great option if you don’t have a personal vehicle when visiting a city for vacation. But they have limitations, such as taking much longer than a car would and being stuck with the prearranged stops that the bus is required to make rather than where you want to visit.

The shortest bus trip we could find is just shy of 6 hours.

You will end at the bus station in Tucson and need to find your way to Saguaro National Park on your own.

How Far Is It To Drive From Sedona To Saguaro National Park

The most direct route to Saguaro National Park from Sedona is 220 miles.

It will take about 3.5 hours without any pit stops or traffic issues.

sedona rock formations with dark clouds and a rainbow after a storm

How Many Days Do You Need For This Road Trip

You will have no trouble only spending one day on this road trip.

You can take several days to do this itinerary if you wish, particularly if you take the route through Phoenix and want to spend a few days there looking around.

But we have laid out suggestions below that you can stop for an hour or two and then get back on the road. So there is no reason you couldn’t pick one or two stops and still reach Tucson and Saguaro National Park by the end of the day.

We suggest staying the night in Tucson and then hitting up Saguaro National Park first thing in the morning.

If you can only stay for an overnight in Tucson, get up early and pick only one side of Saguaro National Park to visit (we suggest the Tucson Mountain District for its density of saguaros). Spend most of the day visiting before driving direct back to Sedona.

Optional Routes For Your Road Trip To Saguaro National Park

There are two optional routes to get between these locations. As the northern part of the drive will take you separate ways, what you can see along each route will vary.

Then the two routes merge, and you will be able to see the same things for the rest of the trip.

I-17 S / I-10 E

The quickest and fastest route takes you 3.5 hours. Heading directly through Phoenix gives you many opportunities to stop for activities in the bigger city.

google map of the first driving option from sedona to saguaro national park

AZ-87 S / 1-10 E

The alternative route takes about an hour longer than the first option, a total of 4.5 hours. But it bypasses the bulk of Phoenix and heads through some more scenic areas.

alternative google map route from sedona to saguaro national park

Best Road Trip Stops To Make When Heading To Saguaro National Park

You can make plenty of stops along these routes to turn it into a fun road trip.

Of course, we know you probably don’t want to take three days to drive just 4 hours. But a stop or two along the way should still get you there before the night is through.

Along the I-17 S / I-10 E Route

Here are a few optional stops along the I-17 route.

1. Out Of Africa Wildlife Park

Out of Africa Wildlife Park is a perfect stop to make on this road trip if you love animals.

This wildlife park offers you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most majestic animals in the world. From bears and sloths to lions and porcupines, you’ll be able to encounter some of nature’s most magnificent creatures.

close up of a giraffe face and neck with a blue sky behind

You won’t be able to wander the whole park if you are trying to reach Saguaro National Park by the end of the day. Instead, you will need to pick a couple of areas of the park to visit.

We recommend the African Bush Safari.

If you have never been to Africa, this is a small taste of what it is like. You will board a bus and enter the large animal enclosure to see zebras, ostriches, giraffes, and more up close.

Then if you still have time, the Predator Feed allows you to watch some of your favorite predators, like lions and hyenas, be fed. You might even get a chance to hear a hyena laugh if you are lucky.

With its incredible animals and family-friendly atmosphere, Out of Africa Wildlife Park makes for an unforgettable experience.

➡️ Book Your Ticket to Out Of Africa

IMPORTANT: Traveling In Focus takes animal abuse and neglect very seriously. If you, as the reader, ever feel that the welfare and health of animals are not being upheld at an activity we have suggested when you visit, please do not support the vendor.

Address: 3505 AZ-260, Camp Verde, AZ

2. Aqua Fria National Monument

The Aqua Fria National Monument is a must-see stop on the Sedona to Saguaro road trip.

a saguaro cactus stand tall before a rocky mountainous background

This monument covers over 71,000 acres and is home to some of Arizona’s most stunning landscapes. From the rolling hills covered in cacti to the deep canyons carved by ancient waters, it’s easy to understand why this area is so popular with nature lovers and adventurers.

There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and more within the monument.

One of the highlights is finding some of the ancient ruins in the area. While the park contains more than 400 sites, only one is published on the park map (to help protect others from vandalism and destruction).

This means you can spend as little or as much time as you want searching for additional sites. Nearby to various ruins, you will find thousands of petroglyphs.

With its stunning canyon and archeological sites, the Aqua Fria National Monument offers some of the best scenery in Arizona.

📎 Tip: You will need a high-clearance vehicle to access the published ancient site, Pueblo La Plata. While the road is maintained, it can be rocky and uneven.

Address: Black Canyon City, AZ

3. Dolly Steamboat On Canyon Lake

A scenic nature cruise on Canyon Lake in Arizona is a great way to spend a couple of hours in the area, enjoying the views from a totally new perspective.

canyon lake sits between a green desert landscape and rocky cliffs in the background

The lake is tucked away in the rugged Superstition Mountains and provides breathtaking views of calm water and jagged cliffs all around.

Guests on the Dolly Steamboat take a narrated tour of Canyon Lake, learning about the natural beauty and history of the area.

Along the way, you will discover unique wildlife and plants and experience breathtaking lake views from different angles. During the cruise, you are often blessed with sightings of bald eagles and bighorn sheep on the banks.

Located close to Phoenix, this is the perfect tour to get out into nature and do an activity besides hiking.

The Dolly Steamboat has several options for cruises, starting with a short 1.5-hour nature tour that will get you back on the road quickly or tours as long as 8 hours that include the Apache Trail.

➡️ Book the Apache Trail Day Trip With Dolly Steamboat

Address: 16802 AZ-88, Apache Junction, AZ

Along The AZ-87 S / 1-10 E Route

If you would prefer to head down the AZ-87 route, these are some options for you to check out.

4. Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument is a well-preserved cliff dwelling in Camp Verde, Arizona.

montezuma castle sits in the cliff at the national monument, it is the perfect place to stop during  a sedona to saguaro national park road trip

The Sinagua people originally inhabited the site and built an impressive 20-room high-rise apartment complex (5 stories!) into the limestone cliffs of Beaver Creek over 600 years ago.

For centuries, the castle remained untouched until it was discovered again in the late 19th century.

Today, you can explore the ruins and learn more about these ancient people and their culture. The land around the monument also offers an array of outdoor activities, such as bird watching and hiking.

Montezuma Castle National Monument’s convenient location makes it one of Arizona’s premier tourist destinations.

And while it is a popular site to visit, it is essential to take care to preserve the area’s cultural history. To allow future generations to see that ancient people could build such impressive structures without the technology we have today.

If you are interested in a guided tour, we recommend this private half-day tour to see Montezuma Castle AND Tuzigoot.

➡️ Book Your Montezuma Castle-Tuzigoot Private Tour

Address: Montezuma Castle Rd, Camp Verde, AZ

5. Verde Hot Springs

This one is for adventurous souls as it is harder to get to than some of our other suggestions.

a small cactus sits along a rocky shore

The Verde Hot Springs is a hidden gem accessible via a rough road, a short but steep hike, and wading across the river.

The hot springs are part of the remains of a resort built in the 1920s. It was a popular attraction at the time, and even the likes of Al Capone are said to have visited.

Unfortunately, the resort was destroyed in the 1960s by a fire and never rebuilt.

But the thermal pools managed to survive and consist of several tranquil pools that range from lukewarm to scalding temperatures. These pools are perfect for relaxing and soaking in, with the soothing hot water providing a truly unique experience.

You have the added bonus of being surrounded by nature and enjoying all the Verde River offers, from its diverse wildlife to its beautiful scenery.

The Verde Hot Springs is ideal for anyone looking to relax…after a bit of an adventure to get there.

📎 Tip: We recommend a high-clearance vehicle as the road may not be maintained. It is also important to note that if the river is high or seems unsafe to cross, please don’t attempt to do so.

Address: 8375 AZ-179, Camp Verde, AZ

6. Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest is an expansive forest located in central Arizona.

This vast landscape features mountains, canyons, and a variety of wildlife habitats.

a road leads into tonto national forest, brush on both sides and mountains in the back at sunset

Whether looking for a single short hike or spending an entire day here, Tonto National Forest has something for everyone to enjoy out in nature.

Popular activities you can do with just a few hours are hiking, fishing, having a picnic, or wildlife viewing.

If you are looking for a hike to stretch your legs, we recommend the Hieroglyphic Trail. This out-and-back trail is about 3 miles but is considered easy. Along the way, you will see ancient petroglyphs.

If you want to try an intermediate trail, the Prospector’s View Loop might be the one for you. This loop hike is about 3.5 miles and covers some beautiful terrain.

Address: Tonto National Forest (who would have thought!)

On Both Routes After Merging

The following options can be seen regardless of which route you start on because you will find them after the two routes merge onto the same road.

7. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located in Coolidge and preserves an ancient Hohokam village that was active back in the 1200s.

A European discovered the site in 1694 and it has since been used as a research center for archaeologists to learn more about these mysterious people.

You can view the four-story adobe structure called the Casa Grande. It is believed to be one of the largest Pre-Columbian structures ever built in North America. There are other smaller adobe dwellings scattered around the site as well.

While you can’t wander inside the “big house” due to its delicate nature, you can view it from all four sides. This provides an excellent overview of the ruin and what it must have been like in its former glory.

The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument also contains various artifacts from this ancient civilization, offering a unique window into the history and culture of these people.

Address: 1100 W Ruins Dr, Coolidge, AZ

8. Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak State Park is a stunning recreation area between Phoenix and Tucson.

a night photo of picacho peak with the milky way in a reddish night sky

Home to the gorgeous Picacho Peak, the park offers you an opportunity to explore its ruggedly beautiful terrain and experience spectacular views from atop the mountain.

The park is filled with trails ranging from easy strolls along the desert floor to more strenuous hikes up the peak, all offering breathtaking views. Other popular activities include picnics, bird watching, and wildflower viewing in the spring.

Picacho Peak is also home to several historical sites, including the Picacho Peak Battlefield. So if you are a civil war history buff, you won’t want to miss this one.

☘️ Bonus: If you have time for another stop, only 1 mile away, you will find Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. At the ranch, you will get a chance to feed and see ostriches that were born and raised on the farm.

Address: 15520 Picacho Peak Rd, Picacho, AZ

9. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Only minutes from your final destination of Saguaro National Park, you will find our last suggested stop.

a colorful green lizard sits on a rock

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum combines a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and natural history museum.

Located in Tucson, Arizona, this incredible institution offers you an opportunity to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert up close. As a desert research center, the museum focuses on conservation education and wildlife preservation.

You can explore the museum’s extensive exhibits, which feature a variety of desert animals, plants, and landscapes.

Additionally, the museum offers special activities such as docent tours to help you gain an even deeper appreciation for Arizona’s unique desert environment.

It is the perfect addition to a visit to Saguaro National Park as it gives you a wealth of knowledge about the desert and wildlife that live there, providing a more enjoyable experience once inside the national park.

Address: 2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ

FAQs FOr A Road Trip To Saguaro National Park

Now that we have discussed what to see on the road trip, let’s talk about a couple of common questions about Saguaro National Park.

Is Saguaro National Park Worth Visiting

Absolutely! Saguaro National Park is well worth visiting.

This stunning park is a fantastic place to explore the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, and Tucson is perfect for winter visits if you want to get away from the snow!

The park offers you a chance to see the majestic saguaro cacti for which the park is named, and other unique plants and animals that inhabit the desert.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy here, from hiking and scenic drives to camping and wildlife watching. With its incredible landscapes and abundance of natural wonders, Saguaro National Park is an unforgettable experience you can’t miss.

the drivable scenic route in saguaro national park is a packed dirt road with saguaro cactus along the route

What Not To Miss In Saguaro National Park

When visiting Saguaro National Park, make sure to take in some of its most iconic attractions.

Here are two things we suggest you take advantage of during your visit.

The Bajada Loop Drive is a 6-mile scenic drive that takes you through the park’s vast cactus forests and rugged terrain. You can see breathtaking views of saguaro cacti and other desert plants along the way.

The Desert Discovery Trail is a popular short hiking path. It takes you on an educational journey through the park’s many ecosystems and habitats.

With its variety of signs and information panels, this hiking trail offers you an in-depth look at the plants, animals, and geology of the Sonoran Desert and is the perfect place to start your journey in the park.

saguaro national park landscape with rocky moutains and cacti

To Finish – Sedona To Saguaro National Park Road Trip Stops

The beauty of Arizona’s natural wonders can only be truly experienced on a journey from Sedona to Saguaro National Park.

From the stunning red rocks of Sedona to the majestic saguaros of Saguaro National Park, this road trip offers an unforgettable adventure.

With its incredible landscapes and abundant wildlife, this area is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Arizona!