Saguaro National Park: Bountiful Life in a Barren Landscape

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Sometimes life’s most beautiful surprises thrive in the harshest environments. Such is the case in Saguaro National Park, where unforgiving conditions foster a deceptively budding and relentlessly tough ecosystem. Look once at Saguaro National Park and notice towering cacti, but not much else. Look again, this time a bit closer, and you’ll uncover disarmingly vibrant wildlife and a certain tranquility that can only be found in the American Southwest. Come along as we turn over the stones and uncover the majesty of the saguaro.

Adjusting your perspective in Saguaro National Park

The saguaro: the statuesque symbol of the Southwest. Most recognizable of all cacti and the namesake of this ancient stretch of protected desert land, the saguaro is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of arid America. And for good reason; these spiny giants rule like royalty over the nearly 91,000 acres of Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, and serve as keepers of the region’s scarce water supply.

Although immense cacti dominate the imagery of the landscape, there’s far more to Saguaro National Park than one can capture with a simple flyover. When you walk or bike Cactus Forest Trail, you’re likely to spot some of nature’s most durable fauna and flora, from the the elf owl and burrowing mammals to the Harris’s hawk and scorpions, all of which withstand the sun’s unfiltered rays and night’s brutal cold in their own unique ways.

If you’re after history, do yourself a favor and indulge in the stories of Red Hills Visitor Center, where you can discover the tale of Saguaro National Park from the natives’ perspective. And be sure to stop off at Signal Hill, where you’ll find countless centuries-old petroglyphs that depict the desert as far back as prehistoric times. However you choose to make your way around Saguaro National Park, this is our recommendation: look, and then look again. Step 2 is essential!