Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro National Park

Located in the Sonoran desert, Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of giant saguaro. Located at the edge of the town of Tucson, AZ, Saguaro National Park has two districts, the Tucson Mountain District (Saguaro West) and the Rincon Mountain District (Saguaro East).

The park gets its name from the saguaro cactus, which is native to the region. Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert, but not in all parts of the Sonoran Desert. The range of the saguaro is limited by freezing temperatures in winter.

Limited by elevation, saguaro are usually found growing from sea level to approximately 4,000 feet in elevation. Saguaros growing higher than 4,000 feet are usually found on south-facing slopes where temperatures don’t drop as low as other areas of the desert. Many other kinds of cactus, including barrel cactus, cholla cactus, and prickly pear, are also abundant in this park.

Majestic Saguaro cactus sentinals tower above the colorful Sonoran desert landscape.

Majestic Saguaro cactus sentinals tower above the colorful Sonoran desert landscape.

The park was established as Saguaro National Monument in 1933, and changed to a national park in 1994.

Visitors will enjoy about 150 miles of maintained hiking trails, and shorter walking trails with interpretative information available. (Hiking is not advisable during the hot summer months.)

One endangered animal, the Lesser Long-nosed Bat, lives in the park during its migration, as well as the Mexican Spotted Owl, a threatened species.

Prickly Facts

The saguaro cactuses that live in Saguaro National Park in Tucson only grow in the Sonoran Desert. Here are four things to know about the iconic cactus.

  • Saguaros usually grow from sea level to about 4,000 feet in elevation.
  • It takes a baby saguaro eight years to grow 1-1.5 inches.
  • A saguaro’s average lifespan is 150-175 years, and it can grow to be 50 feet tall.
  • The Tohono O’odham people have harvested saguaro fruit for centuries. It is essential for making ceremonial wine for the annual harvest ceremony, an ongoing tradition supported by the national park.

Source: National Park Service

SW Hot Spots Road Trip