Just 20 miles south of Tucson along I-19, Sahuarita is named after the small saguaro cacti growing in the area. (The Saguaro National Park is less than an hour north.) Framed by the ponderosa pine-forested peaks of the Santa Rita mountains to the east, Sahuarita and its vicinity brims with history as Native Americans had long settled the area. The town, which appeared on maps as “Saguarito” in the late 19th century, is today known for its pecan orchards and as the gateway to the cottonwood and sycamore canyons of Madera.
Book an RV in Sahuarita and you’ll soon discover that there’s more to it than pecans and prickly plants. Gaze up, go underground, look back, and take your time. That’s what your motorhome rental in Sahuarita is for. After all, this is a timeless landscape with human history stretching back to more than 10,000 years. You can’t rush it if you want to truly take it all in.
From Deserts to Dark Skies, Canyons to Caverns
There's only one place in the United States where you can see massive cacti dominate the landscape, and that's the 92,000-acre Saguaro National Park. The town's namesake plant, the giant saguaro, not only stands as the emblem of the American West but also as food and shelter for a population of unique-looking wildlife that calls this arid slice of Arizona home. Take your travel trailer rental in Sahuarita to the park and expect to encounter antelope squirrels, Gila monsters, regal horned lizards, purple-headed Costa's hummingbirds, and rattlesnakes when you explore the trails. More than 150 miles of designated trails await the intrepid hiker while mountain bikers may want to try the six-mile Bajada Loop Drive and the eight-mile Cactus Forest Loop Drive.
But if you came to the Southwest particularly for the birds, you may have better luck at Madera Canyon, about 20 miles south of town. Because of the various habitats the canyon holds, more than 200 species of birds either live here or overwinter. The trail system (especially in the lower canyon) is easily accessible from the campground and picnic areas even by visitors with limited mobility.
Arizona's clear skies make for a great location for observatories, and you'll find two close to Sahuarita: Mt. Hopkins/Smithsonian Observatory (also known as Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory) 25 miles south of town, and Kitt Peak National Observatory 65 miles west by Sahuarita rental RV. Both institutions are open to the public for tours. If you wish to peek through a telescope for a look at the secrets of the dark sky, consider visiting Kitt Peak. On the other hand, the Smithsonian Observatory offers tours that allow the public to view the surrounding mountains. Look to the east and you’ll see the region's highest peak, Mt. Wrightson. Standing close to 10,000 feet, the mountain offers climbers a challenging hike.
Underneath the arid landscape of southern Arizona lies a mammoth natural wonder: the Colossal Cave near Vail. As far as dry limestone caverns go, it's probably the largest and one of the most fascinating. You can opt to join a standard tour with a guide, or get down and dirty for a more adventurous cave tour that will have you squeeze through, slide down, crawl on your belly, climb on rock walls, and straddle crevices into the deepest and darkest parts of the cave. Bring your Sahuarita camper rental overnight in the park’s campgrounds, unplug from all digital distractions, and experience total serenity.
Where to Park Your RV
In Sahuarita, one of the closest RV parks is five miles south of town. Expand your search to within 15 miles and you'll likely find campgrounds with more amenities to suit your needs. Most of the parks offer full hookup sites, but some may have restrictions on age, pets, and length of stay. The best-rated parks in the area, with a broad range of amenities to match, tend to concentrate around Tucson. If you're willing to put up with a bit road noise for your stay, Tucson-area campgrounds are worth looking into. But if you’d like to get away from civilization in every sense of the word, consider camping under the stars at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
Missions, Missiles, Minerals: Top Things to See in Sahuarita
United States military hardware is often retired to the deserts of the Southwest, and Cold War relics of the Titan Missile Museum are no different. Join a guided tour, and take a peek into the control room, the silo, and the tunnels. For those interested to learn about copper mining, a visit to the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) Mineral Discovery Center is instructive. Looking north towards Tucson, you'll see the influence of the Spanish at Mission San Xavier del Bac established in 1692. The present building, today a pilgrimage site, was constructed by native O'odham workers in 1783.
If you’re seeking urban attractions, find a safe place to leave your RV rental near Sahuarita and take the Sun Shuttle for a 20-minute ride to Tucson, one of the state’s largest cities and home to the University of Arizona. Step into the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to see black bears, coyotes, tarantulas, scorpions and hummingbirds in action. For the aviation lover, a visit to Pima Air and Space Museum is a must. There are 250 historic aircraft stored here plus more than 4,000 others in the "Boneyard". Art aficionados will find several museums to get lost in while history lovers will surely find a walk through Barrio Viejo, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, worth their time.
Sahuarita proudly declares “You’re gonna love it here”! With a big city nearby and nature all around you, you just might. And when you do, find the best RV rental in Sahuarita, AZ and come back to let the timeless desert inspire you to venture farther.