Saguaro National Park – Tucson, AZ

Friday March 31, 2023

Saguaros can grow upwards of 50 feet tall

It took me awhile to get the pronunciation down. You say the word like this: sa-WAH-ro.

These beautiful cacti have become the icon of the desert southwest and they are everywhere in the Saguaro National Park in Tucson.

We used our America the Beautiful pass for entrance into the park. If you don’t have one, it’s one of the very best investments you can make if you are traveling our gorgeous country.

There are two sections of this incredible park one to the east and one to the west of the city. The Saguaro National Park visitors center is on the west side. It is filled with thousands of Saguaro and other gorgeous desert plants.

Panorama from the visitor’s center.

Saguaros are slow growing cacti that regularly grow to 40 feet. The tallest recorded one was 78 feet tall. They can take up to 75 years to grow their first “arm” and they can live for 150 -200 years.

Some Saguaros never grow arms. These are called spears. The arms give them more ability to reproduce as the arms develop the flowers and seeds. (UPDATE). Saguaros without arm can indeed bloom! Thank you to desert dweller Ron Lenz for the photo proof!

Saguaros are built to absorb huge amounts of water when it is available. Their roots go only about 3 feet deep, but can reach over 100 feet along the ground so they can grab water before it runs off. You can visibly see them expand when it rains. When a Saguaro is saturated, they can weigh up to 4,800 pounds.

Harming a Saguaro is illegal in Arizona. If you want to move or destroy one to build you need to get a permit.

While there are 150 miles of designated trails, there are only two trails on the western side that are dog friendly. We drove the truck about two miles deep into the park to find the longer one, much to Tim’s dismay. But the bumpy adventure was worth it. The trail was wide, well marked and absolutely gorgeous.

Hurry up daddy!

Many of the desert plants are just budding, so there were not many spectacular floral displays, but we could tell that is coming in the next week or two.

There is no car or RV camping allowed inside the park, but tent campers can hike in to stay the night.

Cell phone reception? Nope. Download your maps before you head to the trail if you plan to use one. If you are not going on one of the highly traveled paths I’d recommend having one downloaded to your phone so you can find your way back. We use the free version of All Trails.

Paper park map shows our trail

There is no water available outside of the visitors center areas. Bring plenty. And then add some more to your pack. You will need every drop. Bring snacks too just in case.

Published by Kiralafond

You know those days when you wish you could just sell all your stuff and go on the road? Me too! So I did it.

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