Saguaro National Park, located in southern Arizona, is part of the United States National Park System.
The park is divided into two sections, called districts, lying approximately 20 miles (32Â km) east and 15 miles (24Â km) west of the center of the city of Tucson, Arizona. The total area in 2011 was 91,442 acres (37,005Â ha) of which 70,905 acres (28,694Â ha) is designated wilderness. There is a visitor center in each of the two districts. Both are easily reached by car from Tucson, but there is no public transport into the park. Both districts conserve fine tracts of the Sonoran Desert, including ranges of significant hills, the Tucson Mountains in the west and the Rincon Mountains in the east. The park gets its name from the saguaro, a large cactus which is native to the region. Many other kinds of cactus, including barrel, cholla, and prickly pear, are abundant in the park. One endangered animal, the Lesser Long-nosed Bat, lives in the park part of the year during its migration, together with one threatened species, the Mexican Spotted Owl.
Saguaro National Monument was created on March 1, 1933 by President Herbert Hoover. On October 14, 1994, Congress elevated Saguaro to National Park status.
Facilities in the park include 150 miles (240Â km) of well marked and maintained hiking trails, and shorter walking trails with interpretative information available. Backcountry hiking is not advisable during the hot summer months.
Rincon Mountain District
The Rincon Mountain District is located at the eastern edge of Tucson, and includes the land protected in the original National Monument. Plant communities at the lower elevations in the park are typical of the Sonoran Desert, while the Rincon Mountains support a temperate coniferous forest. The highest peak in this range is Mica Mountain, at an elevation of 8,664 feet (2,641Â m). This side of the park has fewer saguaro than its western counterpart, but they are larger in size due to higher amounts of rainfall and runoff from the Rincon Mountains.
The key feature of this district is its 8.3-mile (13.4Â km) Cactus Forest Loop Drive, which provides access to the two picnic areas and the central trails. Hiking on this side of the park is readily accessible to visitors. There are trailheads present at the east end of Speedway and Broadway and these are popular with equestrians, especially on weekends. Off the park's loop road there are several additional trailheads. Each Visitor Center can supply a map of hiking trails in the park.
At the southern boundary of the park is the Hope Camp Trails, which are also popular with equestrians. Access to the Hope Camp Trails is found at the end of Camino Loma Alta. This road is paved, except for the last 200 yards or so. This section of the park was added in 1991 when the United States Congress authorized the purchase of an additional 4,011 acres (1,623Â ha).
There are no campgrounds accessible by road in the park but the Rincon Mountain District is open to backcountry camping at designated sites. The site closest to a road is the Douglas Spring Campground, which requites a 5.9-mile (9.5Â km) hike. A wilderness permit is required for all overnight stays. The fee for this permit is $6.00 per campsite, per night. There are no overnight accommodations for recreational vehicles in the park, but facilities are available at Colossal Cave Mountain Park which is ten miles (16Â km) south of the Rincon District Visitor Center on Old Spanish Trail.
Gallery of Images
- List of areas in the National Park System of the United States
- Ironwood Forest National Monument
- Old Yuma Mine
- Official site: "Saguaro National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-03.Â
- "Saguaro National Park". saguaro.national-park.com/. Retrieved 2011-06-03.Â
- "Friends of Saguaro National Park". Retrieved 2011-06-03.Â
- "Earthgoers Guide: Saguaro National Park". Retrieved 2011-06-03.Â
- "Saguaro National Park: the last stand of the Wild West Cactus". Wanderlust: A travelerâs diary. Retrieved 2011-06-03.Â
- David Leighton, "Street Smarts: East-side Freeman Road named for homesteading railroad man," Arizona Daily Star, Mar. 19, 2014