Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

Since we had covered the Western district of the Saguaro National Park yesterday, I decided that we’d revisit the Eastern district today. We would later find out that the use of the word “revisit” was completely wrong, because when we pulled into the park we realized that we had literally never even been to the Eastern district before. What we had thought was the Saguaro National Park is actually the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. So this trip back to Tucson was quite a novelty for us.

Summer in Tucson simply means no hiking whatsoever. Luckily the park has the paved 8-mile Cactus Forest loop that you can drive through, and stop off along the way at the various viewpoints.

National Parks are wonderful places to reconnect with nature, but they are also great places to learn about the natural flora and fauna around us. Take the indestructible looking giant saguaros, for example. They are actually quite fragile when younger — prone to frost damage, sunburns, and getting trampled on, so they often survive best when growing under the shelter of nurse trees such as mesquite trees and palo verdes.

A baby saguaro (left) growing under the protection of a nurse tree.
As the saguaro continues to grow, it competes with the nurse trees for water.
This ultimately leads to the demise of the nurse trees around mature saguaros.
Mature saguaros can reach a height of 40ft. This one that Joe’s standing next to is probably a little over 20ft tall.
A landscape dotted with giant saguaros looks quite other worldly
And beautiful at the same time.

By the end of our brief visit through the park, we developed a greater appreciation for the giant saguaros.

Speaking of appreciation. We were back at El Guero Canelo for our last meal before leaving for Phoenix.

With temps of 105F in Phoenix, there really was not a whole lot of outdoorsy options. We did briefly brave the heat to check out the nearby Papago park.

View from Hole-in-the-rock at Papago Park

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