The third National Park on our Southwest tour is a member of the newer generation of parks. Saguaro National Park was established in 1994. It’s the same year that Death Valley and Joshua Tree were similarly promoted from National Monument to National Park status.
Saguaro National Park is unusual in that it brackets a city. Portions of the park sit to the west and to the east of Tucson. Though subtlety different, the two sides of the park are both prime examples of Sonoran Desert.
Tourists visiting Saguaro National Park become immersed in the desert. Saguaro is unlike parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. The park has no signature iconic sights that impel a stop at an overlook. The park’s iconic visual element is its namesake cactus. Classically shaped Saguaro cacti prosper everywhere in both halves of the park.
Unless visitors plan on an extended backcountry foray, two days is sufficient to see Saguaro Park in detail. On our visit, we took our time with short hikes and drives on backcountry roads to experience the barren hillsides and the heavily defended vegetation. The visit reaffirmed what we already knew. The desert is beautiful. It even looks good in the infrared.
The pictures, perhaps the better pictures, continue on Picasa.
The Tucson Mountain County Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on the border of Saguaro West is a must visit when in the area.