View Giant Cacti at Saguaro National Park in Arizona

from Off the Beaten Path | 318

3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, Arizona

The giant saguaro cactus, with its huge upright arms extending from a sturdy trunk, may after some 200 years reach a height of 50 feet. Literally thousands of these giant saguaro cacti fill the Sonoran Desert here in the eastern section of the national park’s two units.

Saguaro National Park, Rincon Mountain District, Arizona© 2009 Larry Cannataro/NPS PhotoThe saguaro cactus at left sports a so-called cristate crown—a deformity that occurs in about one in 50,000 plants.
The saguaros are a great boon to desert birds. Woodpeckers drill holes in the fleshy arms for nests, which are often used later by screech owls, purple martins, and sparrow hawks.

The plants and creatures of the desert can be studied closely on an 8-mile drive that loops through the saguaro forest and also on a 1-mile nature trail near a sheltered picnic area. Over 50 miles of hiking and horseback-riding trails traverse a 58,000-acre wilderness and ascend to the summits of the fir-forested Rincon Mountains at an altitude of 8,700 feet.

–Open year-round. Admission charged.

www.nps.gov/sagu

(520) 733-5153