By Susan M. Keenan ©2009
With more than 90,000 acres of gorgeous beauty, Saguaro National Park is set against a panoramic view of desert greens and browns in southern Arizona. From its early beginnings when it was known as the Saguaro National Monument, Saguaro National Park offers visitors a delightful array of unique flora and fauna as well as an exciting bevy of outdoor activities.
Perhaps one of its most famous features is the Giant Saguaro, after which it gets its name. This magnificent specimen opens it branching arms widely as if to welcome park visitors. It is accompanied by an interesting conglomerate of other desert plants including the creosote bush, ocotillo, prickly pear, and the mesquite. The Giant Saguaro, considered a subtropical plant, can be found in large and small clusters throughout the desert.
The park offers two distinctive sections providing their own unique blend of colorful vegetation, outdoor adventure opportunities, and native animals. The smaller of the two is
the Tucson Mountain District or Saguaro West. The larger of the two sections is the Rincon Mountain District or Saguaro East.
Visitors to Saguaro National Park can enjoy picnicking, hiking, and bicycling. Some of the hikes are ranger guided walks, eliminating the possibility of getting lost within the park. More than 2700 species of plants can be found within Saguaro National Park.
The Tucson Mountain District
The Tucson Mountain District provides colorful, thick forests of vegetation suited for the desert climate. The forests are thick, verdant displays that offer an intense opportunity for hiking on day-long adventures. Visitors can also enjoy the beauty of this area along a six-mile drive along the Bajada Loop. Traveling along the graded dirt road, one will be able to access a number of hiking trails ranging from leisurely strolls to intense hiking jaunts among the desert flora.
In particular, the Cactus Garden Trail offers a panoramic display of lush vegetation that provides exciting photographic opportunities. Mother Nature has also bestowed a wonderful presentation of desert flora along the Desert Discovery Nature Trail in this section of the park. Plus, if you are up to the challenge, the Valley View Overlook Trail provides a 1.5-mile hike with panoramic views of the mountain, forests, and desert.
The Rincon Mountain District
The Rincon Mountain District can be accessed along an eight mile stretch of the Cactus Forest Drive, a paved road in the area. This section of the park is well noted for its hiking trails since it offers 128 miles of accessible trail in total. Several of these trails are easy and provide a leisurely hike that allows visitors to take note not only of local flora in the area, but also of local fauna as well. This area features large forests of the Giant Saguaro.
The Saguaro National Park Visitorís Center
The Saguaro National Park Visitorís Center provides an excellent array of maps depicting the area within the park, particularly those features with the smaller trails. It is also an excellent source of educational materials including colorful movies, written materials, and enlightening exhibits.
Detailed information about each of the parkís hiking trails can be found at the visitor center. Most of the easy trails are located near Cactus Forest Drive. The more difficult trails go into the thicker parts of the forest and should be attempted only by the physically fit.
Intro: The Saguaro National Park is located in Arizona. It offers numerous hiking trails as well as gorgeous desert views.