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Film Location: Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Written on November 4, 2018

Saguaro National Park

Located in southeast Arizona, Saguaro National Park is a 92,000-acre (37,000 ha) park consisting of two separate areas – the Tucson Mountain District 10 miles (16 km) west of the city of Tucson and the Rincon Mountain District about 10 miles (16 km) east of the city.

The park gets its name from the giant Saguaro cactus, a native of the Sonoran Desert, and iconic symbol of the American southwest.

The Tucson Mountain District is lower-lying, sees less rainfall, and has 2 biotic communities – desert scrub, and desert grassland. The Rincon Mountain District, sees more rainfall, and has 6 biotic communities – desert scrub, desert grassland, oak woodland, pine-oak woodland, pine forest and mixed conifer forest. Saguaro National Park fauna of note includes the antelope squirrel, rattlesnake, javelina, gila monster, grasshopper mouse, kangaroo rat, regal horned lizard, costa’s hummingbird, roadrunnner, coyote, gambel’s quail, and desert tortoise. The Tucson Mountain District is home to over 400 species. With its greater diversity of altitude, the Rincon Mountain District is home to over 1200 species, including black bears and white-tailed deer higher up.

Saguaro National Park is a desert climate so visiting crews need to make sure to plan accordingly. See here for tips on filming in the desert. Expect poor phone reception and no access to wifi. Services are limited. Visitors centres have restrooms and water fountains.

A Special Use Permit is required to film. Contact Saguaro National Park to apply. Allow at least 6 weeks to process permits.

Old Tucson Studios, located in the western part of the park have hosted a long list of films including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Three Amigos, Little House on the Prairie, and Tombstone, to name a few.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a botanical garden, zoo, aquarium, natural history museum, and art gallery open to filming.

Tucson Mountain Park, a Pima County Parks and Recreation area, adjacent to Saguaro National Park may be an alternative to filming in Saguaro.

When To Shoot?

The summer months from June to September are hot and rainy. Day time temperatures range from 100° and 115°F (38°C and 46°C). Torrential thunderstorms bring flash floods.

Winter runs from November to March. Temperatures are more bearable. This is the busy season for visitor numbers. Snow falls occasionally but generally does not stick.

Wildflowers bloom during the Spring months of March to April. Wildflower highlights include the California and Mexican poppy, the Mojave Aster, the Globe Mallow and the Desert Marigold. Cacti bloom from April to September, with the Saguaro usually blooming from April to June.

Saguaro National Park is known for its magnificent fiery red sunsets.

Tucson Film Crew & Production Support

Arizona has a diverse pool of content producers, fixers, directors, DoP’s, videographers, cameramen, and stills photographers. If are a brand, media company, film studio, advertising agency, or production house looking for production support or a local shooting crew in Tucson or other parts of Arizona, contact us for local recommendations.