A National Park, birds of prey and the desert

In an interesting plot twist in December, we got free plane tickets to a holiday party in Phoenix, AZ over the weekend of December 14. But enough about that – let’s talk about why we said yes to 24 hours in Arizona: Saguaro National Park.

Two hours south of Phoenix (the location of the holiday party) is Saguaro National Park. The park is split in two parts, the Rincon Mountain District to the east and the Tucson Mountain District to the west, with the city of Tucson in the middle. We headed to the West park for the classic desert landscape. And, it did not disappoint.

Since we had a plane to catch, we hiked only part of the Hugh Norris Trail, the longest trail in the Tucson Mountain District. Moderate elevation gain, gorgeous views and plentiful opportunities for Instagram-worthy cactus shots.

Added Bonus: On this side of the park, you can visit the Desert Museum. More of an outdoor zoo than a museum, the “live-raptor show”, where trained birds of prey fly inches above your head is well worth the ticket price.