If you visit the west side you will pass right by the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. Well worth the time to visit. You'll also pass Old Tucson which is where many movies were made but it is a tourist trap. Was rebuilt in 1995 after it burned down. We had visited it in the morning and it burned around 5 that night.
Having visited Saguaro, I was more impressed with the Cacti on Hwy 87 going southbound from Payson to Phoenix. Just don't want to do it with the present MH and trailer behind, that we presently have. Wow, really tough on the brakes, all the way around, but beautiful drive.
We just returned from Tucson and now are in Moab, Ut with Forum Folks. There are a couple of very nice campground on the West side of Saguaro Park. There is a county park called: "Gillman's" or something like that which is close to the Sonoran Desert Living Museum. If you have chance be sure and spend a day at that park, it is great.
The second campground that we like is Western Ways....big sites, very nice facilities. It think it might be a 55 and over campground. On your way to the Saguaro Park, you go through Tucson Mountain County park, which is very nice for hiking and gives you a great feel of what the saguaro's and the Sonoran desert is like.
Regarding which side has a better sample of the saguaros, it think it's pretty much the same, except that the east side of the park is bigger, so therefore more of them.
Both east and west Saguaro NP's are worth the visit but I liked the east side best because it was a good bicycle ride from Far Horizons RV park where we spent the winter. The eight mile loop in the park was a good workout with great scenery.
--Steve & Jodie Crouch
Now in Dillon, MT, in the sunshine.
I think you might be thinking of Gilbert Ray. I believe it's a county or state park. It certainly is in a very pretty area. First come, first served. We haven't had the opportunity to stay there yet but I know the Kuchs really like it. We have driven through.