There is nothing so southwest as the Saguaro cactus, and there are few trails that get you quickly immersed into Saguaro National Park like the Valley View Overlook Trail. This short trail is a terrific way for visitors of all ages and capabilities to get out and really experience the park and views of the Avra Valley.
Reaching a height of up to 45 feet (or taller) and living in excess of 200 years, these amazing plants are simply captivating and so much fun to walk through. It’s no wonder that this trail draws so many visitors each year.
If you only have a few hours in the park and get time for one hike, this is a terrific one to take. And if you have some extra time and it’s not too hot outside, take a picnic lunch with you and enjoy the view from the end of the trail!
VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL DETAILS
- Difficulty: Easy
- Distance: 0.8 miles (round trip)
- Trail: Out-and-back
- Elevation gain: 49 feet
- Peak elevation reached: 2,680 feet
- Best time of year to hike: Fall through spring
- To beat the crowds: Arrive before 9:00 am or after 3:00 pm
- Footwear: Sneakers
- Watch out for: Sun exposure
- Restrooms: None located nearby
- Pets: Not allowed
- Time needed: 30 minutes
We recommend checking out our downloadable Saguaro National Park Itinerary. We cover the best hikes in the park, where to stay, what to bring and what to expect on your journey to Saguaro National Park.
PARKING AND TRAILHEAD FOR THE VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL
Valley View Overlook Trail Parking area map, courtesy of the National Park Service
The parking area for the Valley View Overlook Trail is the Bajada Loop Drive. From the intersection of North Kinney Road and Bajada Loop Drive, head east for about 1.4 miles. The road is dirt and is a bit bumpy if it hasn’t been graded recently. Even small sedans did fine on the road, but just be prepared that you may have to be extra careful when driving.
The parking area is on the left side of the road.
- Directions from the Red Hill Visitor Center to the Valley View Overlook Trail (this is about 3 miles from the visitor center and will take about 10 minutes)
- Directions from Tucson to the Valley View Overlook Trail (this is about 19 miles and 40 minutes away, depending on the traffic)
There are about 15 parking spots for the trail. The parking area is rarely full, but if it is you can plan on just waiting about 2 minutes and there should be a spot opening up.
There are no restrooms at the trailhead or on the trail, so be sure to go at the visitor center or at the nearby Sus Picnic Area (which is near the beginning of the Bajada Loop Drive).
VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL: TRAIL SURFACE AND ACCESSIBILITY
- Trail surface. The trail is packed sand the entire way. There are times when there may be a few small rocks on the trail (particularly near the crossing of the Valley View Overlook Trail and the Wild Dog Trail), but they are small. Still, we recommend wearing closed toed shoes, just to make sure you don’t get injured by any of the small, spiny plants around here.
- Accessibility. The trail is not wheelchair accessible. However, it is never steep, so if you have a cane and are quite mobile, we expect it would be just fine. , but it is flat for the first 0.3 miles and is a nice walk, even if you can’t go the full way.
PREPARATION FOR HIKING THE VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL
Seeing as though this hike only takes about 30 minutes, you don’t need to do too much in the way of preparation. Still, you will want to bring a few things:
- Water. Even for short hikes, and even in the winter, you will want to make sure you have water with you. The air is very dry out here and it will give you peace of mind in the event that you take a bit longer than you originally anticipated.
- Sunblock / Hat. There is no shade out here in the desert, so be sure to bring a hat and/or sunblock with you.
HIKING THE VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL
Valley View Overlook Trail map, courtesy of the National Parks Service
The trailhead starts on the northern side of the parking lot. If you look close, you can see the sign directing you to the start of the trail (just kidding, the sign is quite conspicuous!).
After leaving the parking lot, the trail immediately descends about 30 feet as it heads toward the wash. Just after 0.1 mile, you’ll cross paths with the Bajada Wash Trail and the Dobe Wash Trail. Continue straight as this trail shares the same path as the Wild Dog Trail for a few feet before splitting.
Head to the left to go to the Valley View Overlook. As an alternative, you can hike another 0.9 miles to Golden Gate Road, which is the other side of the Bajada Loop Drive.
After the intersection with the Wild Dog Trail, the Valley View Overlook Trail stays heading directly to the west. The trail is flat and heads mostly straight before climbing up about 40 feet over the last one-tenth of a mile.
At the overlook, if you look to the north you’ll have terrific views of the Avra Valley and Picacho Peak. Picacho Peak rises 3,374 feet above sea level and is off to the north of the overlook.
Overall, the trail is 0.8-miles (round-trip) with approximately 50 feet elevation gain. The trail should take about 30 minutes total, including a bit of relaxing at the overlook.
VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL: TOP LIKES AND DISLIKES
- Quick and Easy. This trail is very quick with great scenery along the way and at the end of the overlook. For those of us with a bit of knee trouble, this is a fantastic warm-up hike.
- Saguaro Cactus. Being right in the middle of the Saguaro cactus is amazing. Our kids still talk about this today!
- Exposure. If you come here when it’s hot, this trail is going to be relentless. Even though it will only take 30 minutes, you will be very hot during the entirety of the hike.
THINGS TO DO NEAR THE VALLEY VIEW OVERLOOK TRAIL
The Bajada Loop Drive is a must-do if you are out here already. Aside from the drive and picnicking along the way, other good stops nearby include:
- The Bajada Wash Trail connects the Sus Picnic Area to Hohokam Road. This 1.7-mile trail (one-way) parallels the Bajada Loop Drive and also offers connection to other trails.
- The Dobe Wash Trail connects to the Hugh Norris Trail and heads to Wasson Peak. Wasson Peak is over 4600 feet in elevation, with this trail climbing 2500 feet of that. The trail is very challenging and practically undoable in the hotter weather.
- The Red Hills Visitor Center is just 3 miles away. It has great view of the mountains, exhibits and a short video. Plus, the rangers here were awesome.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK
- There is a ton to see and do in this park, and you should check out Danielle’s blog on How to Spend a Half Day in Saguaro National Park.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- Be sure to get your copy of the Saguaro National Park Itinerary that we put together for you to download.
- If you really want to know what to do in this amazing park, check out our blog on Saguaro National Park – What to See and Do. We cover an immense amount of information on what to expect, what to pack and what to do in the surrounding area. Another blog that we have covers one of our favorite hikes in the park, the Gould Mine Trail. Finally, if you want to see other great hikes in the park, check out our blog on the Best Hikes in Saguaro National Park.
- We also offer vintage-style posters of Saguaro National Park.
- When you get back from your trip, let us know so we can create a Custom, Vintage-Style Travel poster with your own customized wording from a photo you send to us. We love to work with your customers to create a special travel memory!