Saguaro National Park

SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK -  (PHOTO: SHEHIT/SHUTTERSTOCK)

In a state where greenery can be scarce, the Arizona based Saguaro National Park has often been referred to as the “Desert Monarch.” It offers beautiful greenery and brilliant blossoming cacti, trees, and wildflowers during the spring months. With its warm colors and year round accessibility, many consider Saguaro to be one of the most inviting and welcoming national parks.  

 VIVID ROADSIDE CACTUS SUNSET - (PHOTO: CVM/SHUTTERSTOCK)

 

 

 

Framed within beautiful sprawling mountains, vast fields of majestic saguaro cacti seemingly stretch as far as the eye can see. The signature saguaro cacti are famous for their incredibly large stature, and can reach dizzying heights of 50 feet and weigh up to 6 tons. Take note of how many saguaro cacti have arms, and remember that most saguaro cacti do not grow branches until they are at least 50 years old. They are still tender young plants at that age, considering that many can live for 200 years or more. Interestingly, the saguaro cacti only bloom at night, and rely on bats for pollination. They then rely on coyotes and cactus wrens to eat the seeds and spread them throughout the desert for new cacti to grow. Their survival rate is very low due to harsh conditions, extreme temperatures, and animals who eat and digest their seeds. It is amazing to witness dense forests of saguaro cacti thriving despite the nearly impossible struggle to survive. 

HOHOKAM PETROGLYPHS ON SIGNAL HILL - (PHOTO: ANTON FOLTIN/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Spread over 91,442 acres of land, Saguaro National Park is a part of the Sonoran Desert—a territory that occupies 120,000 square miles of northwestern Mexico, southeastern California and southern Arizona. The park itself is divided into two distinct sections: the western Tucson Mountain District and the eastern Rincon Mountain District.

 THE LAST RAYS OF SUN - (PHOTO: ANTON FOLTIN/SHUTTERSTOCK)

 BRIGHT RED BLOSSOMS - (PHOTO: TERI VIRBICKIS/SHUTTERSTOCK)

The Westerly Tucson Mountain District 

This area occupies around 24,000 acres of land which is hot, dry, and sparsely vegetated. This region has a typically sonorant climate, yet offers a diverse selection of plant and animal life. Some of the animals that inhabit this portion of the park are deer, mountain lions, bats, raccoons, and badgers. The Cactus Garden Trail allows visitors to view a wide variety of cacti, such as the short, shrub-like hedgehog cactus, the chain fruit cholla, with long, draping cacti from branches, and the flat, rounded prickly pear cactus.

 SERENE SAGUARO SUNSET - (PHOTO: KATRINA LEIGH/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Rincon Mountain District 

 (PHOTO: SHEHIT/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Thirty miles to the east of Westerly Tucson Mountain District sits the 67,000 acre Rincon Mountain District. This area is slightly wetter and cooler than the lower district of the park. It is also mostly inaccessible for vehicles, so plan to hike or travel on horseback, and be prepared for a serene experience with captivating scenery. Plan ahead for a special trip to the Rincon Mountain District, you will not want to miss out on a rare and peaceful experience, complete with the raw and unique beauty that only this area of Saguaro National Park has to offer. With immaculate woodlands of oak, ponderosa pines, and Doulas fir trees, there is complete and peaceful solitude wherever you may venture.  

RAINBOW SUNSET AT SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK - (PHOTO: CECILIA LIM H M/SHUTTERSTOCK)

STARS OVER SIGNAL HILL PETROGLYPH - (PHOTO: RCole3/SHUTTERSTOCK)