This back road is one of our favorites, partly because it’s practically in our back yard and because it’s so indicative of the Sonoran Desert. Here in Saguaro National Park West you will be driving through a forest of giant Saguaros. And, within an easy quarter mile hike, you can get up close and personal with ancient Hohokam petroglyphs.
From Tucson, take Speedway west from the I-10 Freeway (A). After a few miles, Speedway merges with Gates Pass Road which takes you over the Pass, down the other side (steep) and eventually to Kinney Road.
At Kinney Road, you’ll see a sign for the Desert Museum. Turn right and head for the Desert Museum. Two miles past the Desert Museum is the Red Hills Visitors Center (B). Park and go in. Watch the brief orientation movie, get a map, and ask the Park Ranger or docent about current road conditions on Bajada Loop Drive. Usually, this graded dirt road is passable in a standard sedan.
The Bajada Loop begins at Hohokam Road, one and a half miles west of the Red Hills Visitor Center. Leaving the Red Hills Visitor Center, turn right onto Kinney Road. Follow Kinney Road 1.6 miles to the loop’s entrance on the right.
Soon you will come to the Signal Hill Picnic Area (C). Stop. Have a picnic. Climb the little hill to the north. The petroglyphs are at the top.
The Loop ends where Golden Gate Road meets Sandario Road. To return to the visitor center, turn left onto Sandario Road. Continue 0.2 mile to the junction with Kinney Road. Turn left. The visitor center is 2 miles ahead.
Rather than turning back to the Visitors Center, you have the option of continuing on unpaved Golden Gate Road (D) for about 5 miles to paved Picture Rocks Road (E). To get back to the City, turn right and go over the pass. As you get out of the hills, the road straightens out and you will soon see a sign for Ina Road. Turn right on to Ina and it will quickly take you back to the Freeway (F).
For a list of the Best Park and Gardens visit our page.