Northeast from the desert floor
Panther Peak sits in the northern-most reaches of the western unit of Saguaro National Park in the Tucson Mountains northeast of Tucson, Arizona. Sitting just west of Safford Peak (locally known as “Sombrero Peak”), Panther Peak is a rustic little desert mountain providing views of the northeastern Tucson suburbs and mountains beyond.
It’s a strange but neat feeling to park your truck in the suburbs and soon after melt into the desert wilderness. The rocky and rugged nooks and crannies of this mountain will envelope you and help you to quickly forget the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city. Large, flat-topped rocks near the summit make for great places to sit and savor the scenery…or cringe at the quary that used to be the eastern Twin Peaks, now a deep pit in the ground.
4,666th highest peak in Arizon
Trails Illustrated #237 Saguaro National Park
Rank & Prominence: Lists of John
There are two primary options for approaching Safford Peak.
Sanctuary Cove from the East
• From this access, a rough, unmaintained winds around Safford Peak to the saddle between Safford Peak and Panther Peak to reach the Panther Peak summit.
• Access is granted through Sanctuary Cove private land through Arizona State Trust lands and finally into Saguaro National Park land.
Check out the Sanctuary Cove Route page for Safford Peak for more information.
Directly through Saguaro National Park from the South
• This access would utilize either the Roadrunner Trail or the Panther Wash Trail to a bushwhack to gain the saddle between Panther Peak and Sanford Peak.
Saguaro Close Up Balanced Rock
West across the desert
Rules and Regulations
No Dogs in Sanctuary Cove
If approaching from the south, please respect Saguaro National Park user regulations. In particular no dogs are allowed, leashed or otherwise, on trails (besides a few designated interpretive trails) within the park.
If approaching the peak from the east, be familiar with use regulations for Saguaro National Park and Arizona State Trust lands. Note that access to the State Trust parcel encompassing the east slopes of Stafford Peak does not seem to be limited in any way. Please be especially respectful of the user regulations outlined by Sanctuary Cove. Appreciate that these private landowners share their property with the Tucson community and disobeying their very reasonable regulations could jeopardize access for all of us. In particular, do not litter, do not rock climb, do not park overnight in their parking area, and leave your dogs, alcohol or drugs at home.
For more information, visit the following websites:
• Sanctuary Cove Website
• Saguaro National Park Website
Young barrel cactus Saguaro and clouds Coyote scat collection
Camping & Lodging
Saguaro Siblings Saguaro Snout
Note that there is no car camping available in the western district of Saguaro National Park. Likewise, there is no camping available and no overnight parking allowed in Sanctuary Cove.
The primary area campground is the 130-site Gilbert Ray Campground
, located in Tucson Mountain Park.
The proximity of the Tucson Metro to the Tucson Mountains area means lodging options are virtually unlimited. Visit the Trip Advisor
site covering Tucson, AZ, for more information about area accommodations.
Back Vultures Conglomerate Outcrop east of saddle East toward Safford Peak
Weather & Seasons
|Month||Avg High||Avg Low||Rain|
|January||64.5 F||38.9 F||0.99 in.|
|February||68.4 F||41.6 F||0.88 in.|
|March||73.3 F||45.1 F||0.81 in.|
|April||81.5 F||50.5 F||0.28 in.|
|May||90.4 F||58.6 F||0.24 in.|
|June||100.2 F||68.0 F||0.24 in.|
|July||99.6 F||73.4 F||2.07 in.|
|August||97.4 F||72.4 F||2.30 in.|
|September||94.0 F||67.7 F||1.45 in.|
|October||84.0 F||57.0 F||1.21 in.|
|November||72.3 F||45.1 F||0.67 in.|
|December||64.6 F||39.2 F||1.03 in.||*Most hikes in the Tucson Mountains, thanks to their low
elevation, would be most comfortable in the fall,
winter or spring.
*March and April are primo wildflower viewing months.
*Summer temperatures in this part of the Sonoran
desert can be worse than uncomfortable;
they can be downright dangerous!
*According to the United States National Weather Service,
the record high temperature for Tucson, Arizona,
set on 26th June 1990, was 117 degrees Farenheit
/ 47 degrees Celsius.
Sonoran Desert Moody clouds What used to be Twin Peaks Clouds over Tucson