Tucson Arizona has a lot to offer and it was a major goal of our Southwestern trip. On the outskirts of Tucson is a surprisingly lush and diverse land.
Saguaro National Park protects an area of Sonoran Desert that is filled with native plants and animals. Chief among these are the saguaro cactus. The saguaro cactus is the symbol of this desert and of Arizona. They are fascinating in their endless varied shapes and sizes. They live a long 150 or more years. 50 to 70 years before they produce an arm. They swell and contract with the rain or drought. They are home to specialized birds. Their wood has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years. Their fruit is still used by the native Tohono O’odham people. The Saguaro usually die of old age but are threatened by loss of habitat and invasive species.
The park offers a one-way loop road and many hikes off that road. We went on a weekday and early as the park gets crowded with limited parking. We found beautiful hiking at Mesa View Trail, Loma Verde Trail and Javelina Rocks.
People of the Hohokam left petroglyphs within the park between 450 and 1450 CE. Spaniards arrived in the 1500s. Arizona became a US Territory in 1854 and a state in 1912. The park was established in 1933 as a national monument. From 1933 to 1942 the CCC built roads, picnic areas and water control dams in the park. Then in 1994 Saguaro became a National Park.