Monday, February 22, 2016

Saguaro National Park

This beautiful National park consists of two districts, east and west.  The two districts are separated by the city of Tucson and are about thirty miles apart.  Together, these districts preserve over 91,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert, including the park's namesake, the saguaro cactus.

We visited Saguaro East-Rincon Mountain District.  This is a healthy saguaro forest at the foot of the Rincons, along with a variety of other desert communities.  We drove the Cactus Forest Drive, an eight-mile scenic drive winding through saguaros and other varieties of Sonoran Desert life.  There's also miles and miles of trails, but we didn't hike on this visit.  We pulled off the road many times, and stepped out of the car for incredible views of the desert and mountains.  It is overwhelmingly beautiful!

These photos will give you a great overview of the desert:

Barrel cactus with fruit.  These cactus always lean towards the south, a great help if hiking!

A view along the scenic drive.

Saguaro cacti.

Ocotillo cactus, looking like a dead plant, but it gets covered with small green leaves, with bright orange flowers at the tip of each stalk.

Brittle bush.

Jumping cholla.

Palo verde tree with clumps of mistletoe attached.

Prickly pear cactus.

Baja Fairy Duster.


Staghorn cholla with the dead trunk and internal ribs of a saguaro.

Jumping cholla and ocotillo cactus with Rincon Mountains in the background.

Ocotillo, barrel, and prickly pear cacti.

This is a must-see place!