On either side of Tucson (east and west) lies the Saguaro National Park. Consisting of a total of 92,000 acres, to the west lies the Tucson Mountain District and to the east the Rincon Mountain District. The Rincon Mountain District of the park was originally created as a national monument, by President Hoover, in 1933. It was transferred over to the National Parks Service later that same year by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy added the western (Tuscon Mountain District) to the park. The park is named for the Saguaro Cactus, one of the residents of the park. It is part of the Sonoran Desert.
We opted for the 8 mile driving loop in the Rincon Mountain District. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1936 and 1939. It is pretty well maintained, though it isn’t a fast drive. The highest speed limit in the park is a whopping 25 mph. I wouldn’t suggest going over that because there are some steep hills and sharp turns through this arid forest.
Mom was excited to learn that if she had been a Saguaro cactus, she would be approximately 16 feet tall by now.
This is not the kind of forest where you’re going to want to touch the flora.
Mom decided to do her impression of a cactus.
I think she was a little sad that there weren’t any trees to hug.
The buds on this cactus remind me of little pineapples.
Today, the drive was low on traffic, though there were bicyclists and even a runner or two, moving along the road. There are signs to watch out for desert tortoises and rabbits, but the only wildlife we saw were birds and an occasional chipmunk making a mad dash across the pavement. There were plenty of hiking trails, for all skill levels, available as well as a couple picnic places. The scenery felt otherworldly to us. Definitely amazing to see that no matter the landscape, nature will survive and flourish.
The price for entrance is $15 per vehicle (for a week) or if you’re walking or biking in, $5 per person. There is a visitor’s center with a gift shop and small museum, as well as park rangers on hand to give you more information about the hiking trails.