What To Photograph In Saguaro National Park

We’ve been to Tucson for almost a week. Saguaro National Park was definitely the highlight. Of course, we see cacti everywhere. And of course, my favorite time to see them is during sunset.

Different from Petrified Forest National Park, our previous national park in Arizona, Saguaro National Park allows you to stay for however long you want, as long as you drive on the paved road after dark. I was less pressed by time, but still felt I had to run when I was alone and passed signs that said “rattle snake area”.

We took a few days off – not doing anything – just to recharge.

In one evening, we took a little sunset hike in Sabino Canyon. It was one of the highly raved recreation area in Tucson. Since we arrived after 4:30pm and no longer could take shuttles, we had to walk along a paved road for about a mile to the trail head. The walk was manageable with our two little ones, with desert views all around.

Since I was running out of time to go somewhere high to photograph sunset, we simply chose the Sabino Lake and dam trail that went down. Surprisingly we reached an open view after about 1 mile, and even saw my long anticipated fall colors that I thought we could have missed this year.

Apollo is fully aware of my passion these days and already learned to gradually boss me around or avoid activities. “Mommy, look! Sunset!””Mommy, you can take pictures of Orion, and I just stay here and watch iPad.” Funny how kids observe and learn.

Gates Pass is what locals seem to favor as the top sunset spot. Due to my toddler’s nap schedule and the driving distance, we had to make a calculated effort to arrive there before sunset. Not knowing exactly where to see the sunset, we almost missed the viewpoint. It was already blue hour, and I almost decided to go back. My instinct told me to make a quick stop at the busiest parking lot when we passed it.

When I stepped out of the car, I knew it was the right place. I climbed up a small hill and tried to see more sky. As I set my tripod, the colors were already fading. I had to capture whatever colors still available.

It was hard to find the perfect composition given the limited time I had. So I simply picked a cactus near me as a token for Arizona, a long exposure light trail to “spice up” the mid ground, and the mountain ranges as the background. Fortunately and unfortunately, this was my only chance to visit Gate Pass.