Saguaro National Park


Park Entrance


On Monday (President’s Day) the weather turned nice so we set on out to Saguaro National Park.  This park is divided into two separate locations.  The west side is known as the Tucson Mountain District and was established in the 1960 to help reverse the decline in the Saguaro cactus in that area.  You can find a lot of information about the park by reading the Saguaro Sentinel that is produced by the park.  Unfortunately the latest edition does not seem to be available, I guess the parks resources are now being spent somewhere else.

You can see from the  Saguaro Sentinel there are many hiking trails as well as a scenic drive.  We spent some time at the Rincon Visitor Centre, they have a webcam if you are interested. We took in an excellent presentation about the Saguaro and how it is important to the native people and animals in the area.  When the presentation was over, before the lights went up, the screen was raised and the curtains were drawn to reveal a HUGE picture window that looked out over the desert.  It was quite an outstanding end to the presentation. We then went out on the drive.  It was getting late so when we hit a “T” intersection near Apache Peak, we headed right on Golden Gate Road and exited the park via Picture Rock Road / Wade Road.  We went back the next day to finish our driving tour and of course we took a few pictures.  Here they are.


Landscape Panorama

When you look out over the desert you see the beige sand, the red rocks and the hint of green in the vegetation.  It all seems to meld together. However, if you take a closer look you will see various shades of green, red and purple.




Many of these are in the picture above.

This cactus, sorry can’t remember the name, can be found all over the place.  It looks like a bunch of sticks about the thickness of your thumb, sticking straight up out of the ground.  We read that these plants can completely leaf out in 48 hours if there has been rain.  During our drive, we could look on one side of the road and see bare sticks, yet on the other side of the road you can see this.


During our tour we saw a lot of Saguaro.  All different shapes and sizes.  Here is one with, I think, 10 arms.  We have seen a few with 16 arms.  It was quite impressive.


No matter where you look there are stunning vistas


I had a hike on the Signal Hill Trail to see some ancient petroglyphs that are more than 800 years old.


First I had to be warned


dsc_2048 dsc_2049 dsc_2047 dsc_2046

A couple more Panorama vistas.



On another day we ventured over to the other part of the Saguaro National Park, the Rincon Mountain District. This district was established in 1933 in an attempt to preserve the large stand of Saguaro cacti on the set side of Tucson.

We learned more about the cacti in the area and realized we mis-labeled some pictures on the  previous  post.  Of course we also took a few new pictures.

In this district we learned about the internal structure of the Saguaro.  It seems there is an internal, woody structure that helps support the plant. This woody structure can remain standing after the plant dies.  In both sections we could see the cactus skeleton laying on the desert floor but in the Rincon Mountain District, there were more skeletons left standing.


Saguaro Skeleton


Growing a new arm



One of the interesting areas we visited was the Javelina Rocks Overlook.  Here we had a huge rock outcrop nestled in front of the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains.



Javelina Rocks

As I mentioned earlier, I have mis-labeled some of the pictures from the last post.


Chain Fruit Cholla



This was originally marked as a Stag Horn Cholla.  Well it is actually a Chain Fruit Cholla.




Chain Fruit Cholla


Chain Fruit Cholla



These were also identified as Stag Horn Cholla when they are Chain Fruit Cholla as well.




Teddy Bear Cholla

Teddy Bear Cholla

Teddy Bear Cholla



These are not Chain Link Cholla but Teddy Bear Cholla.




I hope that clears things up.  The Teddy Bear Cholla looks fuzzy.  The only difference I can see between the Stag Horn Cholla and the Chain Fruit Cholla is the colour of the stems.  The Stag Horn are red or purple and the Chain Fruit are green.

Besides sitting around the pool, that is how we have spent our week.


3 thoughts on “Saguaro National Park

  1. Thanks for the update about your visit to Saguaro National Park. As always, your pictures are outstanding. We especially liked the pictures of the petroglyphs. Did you see (or hear) any rattlesnakes during your hike? How about any other wildlife? It’s hard to imagine what could live in such an arid environment.


    • No wildlife. Everything is hiding during the heat of the day. We saw 1 gecko (only because he moved), small little guy only a couple of inches long. We also see a few birds. Now if we went out in the evening or early morning, things may be different. But those times don’t work for us.


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