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There are a variety of cactus types on display at Saguaro National Park.
There are a variety of cactus types on display at Saguaro National Park.

Elderly cactus thrive in Saguaro National Park

It takes 75 to 100 years for a saguaro cactus to produce an arm, and the plant can live more than 150 years. They provide shade and water for birds and a forest of saguaro is impressive.

You’ll enjoy tens of thousands of America’s largest cactus at Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Ariz. We visited the park several years ago when touring the southwest. It was delightful to see these iconic symbols of the American west standing guard like silent sentinels over the desert.

There are lots of opportunities for people to enjoy the park while helping the rangers to measure and record the location of cactus and help collect seeds which are replanted and nurtured into mature plants.

The park is divided into two distinct parts, referred to as Saguaro East and Saguaro West. We prefer the western park because it is bigger and has more to see. However, each offers great hiking or biking trails to enjoy. Be sure to bring plenty of water.

The eastern park is home to bears and cougars, so be on the lookout for those. Make plenty of noise to let them know you’re in the area and they’ll respect your space. There are also homesteading displays.

The western park features an orientation program about Native Americans and how the saguaro impacted their daily lives. The Signal Hill Picnic area, which is one of five in that part of the park, allows visitors to view hundreds of ancient petroglyphs, or rock drawings.

Driving through the park is a scenic way to see the saguaro up close and there are lots of photo opportunities. Here are some of our favorites.

There are thousands of acres of saguaro cactus in the national park area — the largest collection of these types of cactus. View taken from the top of Signal Hill.

 

Saguaro - topple
It probably won’t take much to topple this.

 

Here are some petroglyphs you can see on the Signal Hill trail.
Here are some petroglyphs you can see on the Signal Hill trail.

 

Be careful of rattlesnakes when hiking along the trails.
Be careful of rattlesnakes when hiking along the trails.

 

One of the picnic areas in the western side of Saguaro National Park.
One of the picnic areas in the western side of Saguaro National Park.

 

These cactus can grow to heights of 70 feet and live for more than 150 years.
These cactus can grow to heights of 70 feet and live for more than 150 years.

The park is open year-round to vehicles from sunrise to sunset, but the visitors centers are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A day pass costs $10 and annual passes are available, too. Discounts are offered for volunteers, senior citizens, military members and fourth graders.

For more information about the park, click here.

About John Huggins

John Huggins is a retired Navy Electronics Technician Chief. He traded the Navy adventure for a job in manufacturing quality assurance in 1986, and traded that job for the RV adventure in early 2005. He and his wife, Kathy, have traveled the nation chronicling their adventures at Living the RV Dream. They have authored several books and also produce a weekly podcast about the RV lifestyle.

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