Where We Be
|Saguaros often assume almost human form. Here one seems to be holding its arms out to another.
|Saguaro National Park -- Tucson, AZ
|The Sonoran Desert has been described as a "desert jungle" because it is home to over 200 species of animals and 600 species of plants
Saguaro National Park is actually divided in two
by the city of Tucson. There is a Saguaro East
and a Saguaro West, and we visited both during
our time in Tucson. Overall we preferred the
western side, which seemed richer in saguaros
and offered more interesting terrain and trails.
Obviously the star attraction at Saguaro
National Park is the saguaro. These big daddies
of the cactus world grow surprisingly tall and
take on almost human shapes at times. In the
visitor center we watched a brief slide show,
and at the end of the presentation the screen
rose up and the curtains parted for a perfectly
framed view of Saguaro National Park.
We drove a gravel loop road, called Hohokam
Road, which winds through some of the most
beautiful saguaro countryside in the Sonoran
desert. The desert was alive with birdsong and
vibrant with growth -- saguaro, ocotillo, teddy
bear cholla, pencil cholla, barrel cactus, prickly
pear, palo verde. We hiked along the Valley
View Overlook Trail and also did a brief hike at
Signal Hill to see some geometric petroglyphs.
|After watching a brief slide show about Saguaro National Park, the screen rose and the blackout curtains opened to reveal this splendid view
|We thought the terrain was more interesting and the saguaros more numerous in Saguaro West -- but both sides of the park are worthwhile if you have time
|This helpful sign summarizes some of the most common plants and animals in the Sonoran Desert
|The whitish top of one of the saguaro arms
|Robin stands next to a saguaro to give a sense of just how big they are. The closeups show the saguaro's protective spines.
|This is vibrant desert -- not arid and empty. The tall spiny sticks covered with green growth are called ocotillo. In April they bloom with crimson flowers.
|Some saguaro arms grown downward (as above)
|This saguaro's arm seems to frame the saguaro behind it
|This rock art was carved into the rocks by the prehistoric Hohokum people more than 1000 years ago
|We hiked two short trails in Saguaro West. The first was to Valley View Overlook, and the second to Signal Hill to see the ancient petroglyphs shown here.
|At the entrance to the Saguaro West visitor center
|Saguaros take up to 75 years before they start to grow "arms" like these. Saguaros can live to be 150 to 200 years old.