I was wondering if there are any huge cacti like these:

enter image description here

(I believe they're called Saguaro or something, but I guess similar cacti are fine too) that one can see (in the winter) somewhere along the following route?

San Diego - Palm Springs - Phoenix - Sedona - Tusayan - Page - Panguitch - Springdale - Las Vegas - Badwater - Los Angeles

I'm aware about Saguaro National Park, but it's too far from Phoenix.

  • 18
    @Daniil I thought the fact that the route is long makes it easier to answer the question. If I ask if there are cacti say 20 miles away from downtown Phoenix, then people who don't know the answer but know that there are cacti 20 miles away from downtown Las Vegas will not be able to answer the question.
    – user557
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 21:26
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    Would you be interested in visiting a botanical garden to see them, or are you hoping more for them in the "wild"? There's a desert botanical garden in Phoenix with saguaros. I can post an answer with more details if it interests you.
    – Kat
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 16:02
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    It's difficult to go anywhere in or near Phoenix without seeing Saguaros. They are all over the place.
    – Brady Gilg
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 17:55
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    @Kat I was hoping to see them in the wild, but if you post an answer, it may be helpful too, particularly for other people who are specifically interested in seeing them in botanical gardens.
    – user557
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 22:04
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    Any of the nature parks near Phoenix should have Saguaros, it's hard to avoid them in Phoenix. I went to several nature parks when I visited Phoenix, sorry can't remember the names. There are also many visible from roads, but you may need to go onto private property to get a good picture.
    – Mattman944
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 0:54

7 Answers 7


Saguaro cactus are native specifically to the Sonoran desert. This photo outlines where the Sonoran desert is located.

enter image description here

According to this TripAdvisor thread, you will not see them 20 minutes north of Phoenix. They seem to stop growing above 3,000 feet above sea level. You should be able to see them south of Sedona, along I-17 interstate highway.

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    Some years ago I drove from north from Phoenix to Flagstaff (on the I-17, IIRC), and there were saguaro cacti on the roadside for the initial stretch. Random Street View (zoom in!): goo.gl/maps/D1MNx2Jis6DsL5Zi7 There was no place to stop though, and they petered out very fast once we got into the hills though. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 0:49
  • Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs which is in OP's route has a lot of large cacti inside the city, possibly of the same type, but I'm not sure if any can be found wild
    – ksiimson
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 7:58
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    TripAdvisor is lying! I live in Phoenix and regularly go 20 minutes north and there are countless Saguaros. I have four in my yard!. I think Cave Creek, AZ has more Saguaros than the national park. I've been to both.
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 13:45
  • I looked at the TripAdvisor thread and they said there are no Saguaro in Sedona, which is true.
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 13:50
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    @AussieJoe I guess it depends on where you are measuring from; down town, the airport or the outskirts of town. Plus, Saguaro grow well north of Cave Creek. There are many, many scenarios where Saguaro's occur naturally more than 20 miles north of Phoenix. If you want to see a LOT of Saguaros go to Cave Creek, It's only a few miles from I-17. They're very easy to find. They're as dense or more than the top picture. I can give you directions if you like. Saguaros are found over a wide range, but only occur densely in a few places. There are also many other native cactus there.
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 18:58

You can find Saguaro in South Mountain Park on the south side of Phoenix. Here's a screenshot from Google Street View showing a couple:

enter image description here

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    I'm sure you stick around long enough here, you'll see a coyote, hear a "beep beep" and see a road runner dash by.... :P
    – 3kstc
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 0:57
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    I used to live adjacent to South Mountain Park, and it's a great park, very peaceful, very typical of the Sonoran desert, with easy trails and it's quite easily accessible (as opposed to say the Superstitions which are a little further out, with harder trails). Also try Papago Park which is sort of between Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale, which has some interesting rock formations (and a great place to watch the sunset over Phoenix). Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 12:54

Your segment from Palm Springs to Phoenix will probably be along I-10, which passes through Blythe at the Colorado River between Yuma and Lake Havasu City. There will be scattered saguaro all along that stretch of road and more densely populated patches just off the highway, especially to the south-east of Blythe in southern Arizona. When I lived in Phoenix 50 years ago, the town (now "city") was lousy with saguaro, cholla, barrel cactus, and prickly pear characteristic of the Sonoran Desert. The stretch of I-17 just north of Tucson is always a great place to see loads of them, but that is not part of your stated route. I also suspect the Colorado River valley between Blythe & Lake Havasu City will not be part of your itinerary; if it were, you'd see all you'd want and more...

  • 1
    I lived there on and off between 1994 and 2007 and can confirm that there are a lot of saguaro and other large cactus just in the city in general. Xeriscaping (landscaping using native plants, soils, and rocks) is popular as a way of lowering maintenance costs/time of yards, and saguaro and barrel cactuses are often featured. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 13:01

Leaving the Phoenix area to the east along Highway 60, there are many many Saguaro between Apache Junction and Superior.

Leaving the Phoenix area to the south along the I-10, once you leave the developed area (not too far south of Chandler), you again can see many of them, and can continue to see many of them all the way until you hit the border of New Mexico.

Leaving the Phoenix area to the west along the I-10 will have some visible near the interstate, though not in the profusion to the east or south of Phoenix.

Leaving the Phoenix area to the north along the I-17 will briefly have some visible, but the elevation rapidly climbs several thousand feet out of the valley, and you won't see many after that.

Your chosen route seems to be too far north to enounter Saguaro.


There is also Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden 10 miles away from downtown Las Vegas. According to the pictures from Google Maps, there are some big cacti there (I don't know whether they are Saguaro or not).

Those cacti are not quite "in the wild", but the question as I stated it does not specify whether I'm looking specifically for cacti in the wild. (In fact I am, but nevertheless this answer may be useful to someone.)


The drive on I-17 between Sedona and Phoenix has wonderful views of saguaros from a car, but not places to hike among them. You should definitely stop at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix; they have great specimens and information. The South Mountain Park and Preserve in SW Phoenix has some great hikes with plenty of saguaros.

You can't go to Phoenix without seeing saguaros!


This isn't answering exactly what you asked, but if you are travelling through Palm Springs, and interested in the unique flora of the American southwest, you should make a side trip to Joshua Tree National Park, home to the a desert plant just as iconic and even more restricted in range than the saguaro.

enter image description here

(image source)


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