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Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park protects and preserves a giant saguaro cactus forest that stretches across the valley floor near Tucson. Unique to the Sonoran Desert, the park’s giant saguaros sometimes reach as much as 50 feet in height – so it’s no wonder they’ve been described as the kings of the Sonoran Desert.
The city of Tucson divides Saguaro National park into two districts – the Tucson Mountain District to the west and Rincon Mountain District to the east, each located about 30 minutes outside of the city.
History & Nature
First designated as Saguaro National Monument in 1933, the area received national park status in 1994. It is also the ancestral home of the Tohono O’odham people, who today continue to play a role in the park’s culture, visiting every year in the early summer to pick saguaro blossoms.
In addition to a broad expanse of desert, Saguaro National Park also features mountainous regions – some reaching more than 8,000 feet above sea level – where pine and coniferous forests form a canvas of greenery. These varied landscapes provide ideal habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna, including wildlife like javelinas, coyotes, quail and desert tortoises in the lower elevations, and black bear, deer and Mexican spotted owl in the upper elevations.
Things to Do
Start your visit at the visitor center of either one of the Saguaro National park districts. Here, you can take in museum exhibits, informational slide shows, cactus gardens or shop at a sales outlet. The visitor centers are also the starting point numerous hiking trails and scenic drives.
Guided walks led by visitor center staff are also available at the center – giving you the best close-up experience with some of the most notable areas of the park.
Hotels, Lodging & Camping
Located in Southern Arizona, you can easily take a daytrip to Saguaro National Park from Tucson, where hotels and resorts abound.
Camping is also available in the backcountry of the Rincon Mountain District by obtaining a permit at the visitor center. Contact the park for more information.