National Parks Near Tucson

We were in the heart of snowy Minnesota winter when we first entered ‘national parks near Tucson, Arizona’ into the Google search bar. We were deserving of a road trip to the city well-known as “The Sunshine Factory” at that point in the year.

We only had two things in mind for our 2019 Arizona road trip: sunshine and #parkchasing.

So, just how many of the more than 400+ National Park Service units are near the Tucson, Arizona area? We were excited in our research to find there are 9 units near Tucson, including 1 national park, 5 national monuments, and 2 national memorials.

That makes it easy to cross of some #parkchasing sites on your list all within a short distance of the downtown Tucson area!

Download a FREE #parkchasing list of all the units in the National Park Service!

Map of the National Parks Near Tucson Arizona

National Parks Near Tucson Arizona

National Parks in Tucson

Only one national park can claim the status as nearest to Tucson: Saguaro National Park. The west and east units of the park form the mountains that surround downtown Tucson on either side.

Saguaro National Park

Park Website:
Park Location:
Tucson Mountain West Visitor’s Center
2700 N Kinney Rd
Tucson, AZ 85743

Saguaro National Park was first designated as a national monument to protect the largest concentration of Saguaro cacti in the world. These giant icons of the American west only grown in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona and California. Hiking, biking, and scenic drives are some of the top activities in Saguaro — and they’re all within 30 minutes of the downtown area.

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National Parks Near Tucson Arizona

National Parks Within 1 Hour of Tucson

Don’t want to drive too far out of the Tucson area? Only have time for a quick afternoon trip? Try one of these national park units within a 1 hour drive of the Tucson area:

Tumacácori National Historical Park

Park Website:
Park Location:
1891 East Frontage Road
Tumacacori, Arizona, 85640

Located about 1 hour’s drive south of Tucson, Tumacácori National Historical Park protects the ruins of three Spanish mission communities. The park is divided into three separate units, allowing visitors to hike and wander through the old Mission ruins established in the area in the lat 1600’s.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument with two Saguaro Cacti

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Park Website:
Park Location:
1100 W. Ruins Drive 
Coolidge, AZ 85128

Located about 1 hour’s drive north of Tucson, Casa Grande Ruins protects what remains of a large, four-story, 60-foot long structure. It’s believed to have been the home of the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert in the early 13th century. While archeologists aren’t entirely sure why Casa Grande Ruins was built, it was home to a large community of farmers and hunter-gatherers until it was abandoned around 1450. Visitors today can walk through a museum of artifacts collected from the site before viewing the ruins. They stand just a few hundred yards from the visitor’s center.

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Hohokam Pima National Monument Area
Landscape taken from the road near Hohokam Pima National Monument

Hohokam Pima National Monument

Park Website:
Park Location:
Not published.

Did you know that there’s a unit of the more than 400+ sites in the National Park Service that you cannot visit? While we think every unit has something special to offer, as we were finalizing the plans for our 2019 Arizona road trip, we ran into one of the more ‘unique’ spots in the park service: Hohokam Pima National Monument. Located about 1 hour 15 minutes drive north of Phoenix, Hohokam Pima National Monument stands as the one national park unit you can’t technically visit.

There’s no Visitor’s Center. No hiking trails. No unigrid or passport stamps to collect. To find out how we logged a visit, check out our trip log: Hohokam Pima National Monument: The National Park Site We Couldn’t Visit.

National Parks Within 3 hours of Tucson Arizona

National Parks Within 3 Hours Drive of Tucson

Coronado National Memorial

Park Website:
Park Location:
4101 E Montezuma Canyon Road 
Hereford, AZ 85615

In 1540 an armed expedition led by conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado arrived in the area now commemorated by Coronado National Memorial. The team consisted of over 300 Europeans, over 1000 Aztec/Mexica allies, a handful of Franciscan priests, and scores of servants and enslaved peoples. Today visitors can hike the historic trails in the area and tour the Coronado Cave, one of the few open, undeveloped caves in southern Arizona.

Park Chasers with Organ Pipe Cactus

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Park Website:
Park Location:
10 Organ Pipe Drive 
Ajo, AZ 85321

While many people stop in Tucson to have their photo taken with a Saguaro, it’s also worth driving to nearby Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument for another famous cactus photo. Designated as an International Biosphere Reserve, the park protects the only wild-growing organ pipe cacti in the United States. 95% of the park is designated wilderness area making it one of the most remote places in all of Arizona.

Tonto National Monument

Park Website:
Park Location:
26260 N AZ Hwy 188
Roosevelt, AZ 85545

Located about 3 hours northwest of Tucson, Tonto National Monument is a small site managed in by the National Park Service in the large Tonto National Forest. Around 1300 AD, a small community of Salado people constructed two dwellings in shallow caves overlooking what is now Roosevelt Lake. The national monument preserves these dwellings and tells the story of the residents who called them home hundreds of years ago.

Chiricahua National Monument

Park Website:
Park Location:
12856 E Rhyolite Creek Rd 
Willcox, AZ 85643

The Apaches once called the place now designated as Chiricahua National Monument “The Land of Standing-Up Rocks.” Located 1 hour 50 minutes East of downtown Tucson, the monument protects a large collection of geologic formations known as rhyolite rock pinnacles. They look like large rock stacks balancing precariously in the mountains. Chiricahua is a popular spot for hiking, birding, and camping.

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Park Website:
Park Location:
3500 Apache Pass Rd
Bowie, AZ 85605

Closely connected to Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the historic outpost inhabited by the United States Army during the Apache Wars. Visitors can wander among the fort ruins and hike to the famous Apache Pass, reflecting on one of the darkest times in Native American history in Arizona.



Greg & Amy
Chasing a visit to all 400+ units in the NPS
Current Count: 130/423
Next Stop: @hawaiivolcanoes


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