Tucson is surrounded by nature. We are fortunate to have a National Park in our backyard, Saguaro National Park East and West. Each is a little different due to their locations outside our city. Both parks are filled with hiking trails, easy, moderate and strenuous. Join me as we go on an easy walk today.
Drive to the very end of East Broadway and you will discover the entrance for the Broadway Trailhead. Sorry no one was being too creative with this one, but it definitely makes it easy to spot.
Due to all the rains and some snow we had this winter, the desert floor has become a carpet. It should be a banner year for wildflowers too.
The park is filled with Saguaros, what a surprise, prickly pear, barrel, cholla and more. Along with native trees and an abundance of wildlife. The park extends into our Rincon Mountains. There are trails to hike into the mountains too.
Many saguaros begin life under a host tree to protect them from the elements as they mature. It looks like these triplets started life about the same time. Little sister is lagging behind. From the evidence on the ground, the host tree is gone. In the background on the right you can see several saguaros growing under the protection of a mesquite tree.
This particular trail was very easy. There were very little changes in elevation. Stop by the visitor’s center, at the park’s entrance, to pick up a trail map. The rangers can suggest appropriate trails based on your time and comfort level. You can also view maps on line at http://www.nps.gov/sagu/planyourvisit/saguaro_hiking.htm.
The saguaros are happy right now. Look at them all plump and green. There are dry spells when they just appear to be collapsing into themselves.
This is Javalina Wash. Today it was dry, but it can be running based on what is happening in the surrounding mountains. During the monsoon seasons this wash could be dry one minute and the next you could see a wall of water coming at you. This day it was a pretty safe bet to walk through it.
Some saguaros may appear to be confused. Their arms just can’t seem to decide which direction they would like to go.
Sadly, old age, drought, lightning and freezing weather are just a few things that can end the life of these beautiful cacti. You will find them throughout the park in various stages of their demise.
If you don’t feel like walking, you can always take the beautiful eight mile Cactus Forest Drive in the East unit. There are places along the way to stop, enjoy the park and learn a little about it’s history and geology. You can even bring along a picnic lunch or early dinner. The Park is open every day except Christmas and National Park fees are collected. You could spend a couple hours here or the entire day. You can backpack into the park with permits. It’s a true gift to our city and our nation. It’s right in Tucson’s backyard! Let me know if you have visited in the comments and your impressions of the park.