The Saguaro is the king of cactuses, the tallest of all, they can grow over 50 feet tall and live over 150 years. Saguaro are home to birds and scorpions, they have a symbiotic relationship with mesquite and palo verde trees. They are the cactus that calls to mind sombreros and tequila and the struggles of the Sonoran Desert.
The Saguaro, pronounced Sa-warro, (ignore the g) National Park is made up of two large segments of land, one east and one west of Tucson, over 91,000 acres. We visited the east segment, known as the Rincon Mountain District, during our recent trip toTucson. There is a short eight mile section accessible by car and then acres and acres available to hike or ride horseback in to. It’s really not much different than most National Parks that way. Lots of wilderness, the difference here is that, because it is desert, you can witness most of it from a hilltop.
Saguaro National Park is mis-named in my book, it should simply be Cactus Park, and while it boasts lots of Saguaro, it also has a ton of other cactus. There are Ocotillo and Chollo and Prickly Pear in abundance. Add to that big barrel cactus and mesquite and palo verde with their long spikes and you have lots of inhospitable plants. As we strolled the various trails, we heard the coyotes barking, as well, so not only inhospitable plants, but animals as well. Fortunately, it was chilly enough that the rattlers didn’t come out to play.
Every one of our National Parks is a treasure, I’m looking forward to a return visit to Joshua Tree next, another of our desert parks, but this one in the Mojave.