Access to the Sonoran Desert section in the Rincon Mountain district of the park is via the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. This eight-mile paved loop weaves among giant saguaro cacti in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains about 16 miles east of downtown Tucson.
In April when the daytime temperatures already approach 90°F, the cacti begin to flower in spectacular blooms. These include the Prickly Pear, the Fishhook Barrel Cactus and the Hedgehog Cactus. The signature bloom of the area, the Saguaro flower, occurs in June when the temperatures can easily exceed 100°F.
The plant has a soft appearance due to its solid mass of very formidable spines that completely cover the stems. From a distance, the stems appear soft and fuzzy, giving it the name "teddy bear". It is anyhthing but cuddly however. The spines are barbed, hold on tightly and sting.