Saguaro National Park: The Home of Some Bad Ass Cacti

Saguaro cacti. Fascinating. Underestimated. Resilient. Amazing. Colin and I didn’t give them enough credit but we learned our lesson – and then some! From our very first visit to the Saguaro National Park Visitor’s Center West on December 4, we were hooked. You can’t get hit in the face with impressive knowledge and just walk away unaffected. Let me show you what I mean.

Saguaro facts:
  • At 1-inch, a saguaro is between 5-10 years old
  • Can grow to be over 40 feet tall (largest measured was 78 feet)
  • Can live to be over 150 years old (even 200!)
  • Don’t grow arms until 75-100 years old*
  • Can weigh up to 4,800 pounds

I mean, right there, you’re just hooked! And then you look at a saguaro like this BAMF, and you think, “whoa.”

saguaro national park
Saguaro you doin’?

After the Visitor’s Center, we eagerly took Vaniel to a trailhead parking lot, and then eagerly took an hour long nap (maybe two?). Such is van life. 🙂 THEN! We woke up and were excited to start exploring our new favorite cactus. We hiked for about four miles and I probably took a hundred photos. 

saguaro national park west

Everywhere I looked, I saw the saguaros as people. I saw interactions playing out between them. Some were pretty hilarious. Even seeing the saguaro skeletons were fascinating – they’re really strong! 

saguaro coyote
Notice the coyote in the foreground.

The Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections – east and west. On December 9, we ventured over to the east side and hiked two miles. There were some big saguaros to admire, but overall, we enjoyed the west side better.

saguaro national park east

We would continue to spend the next four weeks in the general Tucson area where it’s saguaro galore. I’m so glad we went to the Saguaro National Park first so we could truly appreciate them as we saw them throughout the area. 

Saguaros weren’t the only thing keeping us entertained in Tucson, however. We went climbing, mountain biking, and even had a few visitors too! Stay tuned. 

 

*The only gripe I’ll lay on the table is this: the information regarding saguaros and their growth rates, age, etc differs between the East and West Visitor Centers and Wikipedia. So, the stats provided are from Wiki

Author: Lisa

Over one year in van life and loving it. Hiker, rock climber, novice mountain biker, and professional napper. Official “documenter” of our time with Vaniel. Favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know.

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