Saguaro National Park
|Saguaro National Park|
Entrance of Saguaro National Park, Rincon District
|Location||Pima County, Arizona, USA|
|Area||91,442 acres (37,005 ha)|
|Established||October 14, 1994|
|Visitors||610,045 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
The park is divided into two sections, called districts, lying approximately 20 miles (32 km) east and 15 miles (24 km) west of the center of the city of Tucson, Arizona. The total area in 2011 was 91,442 acres (37,005 ha) of which 70,905 acres (28,694 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.
Facilities in the park include 150 miles (240 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, Arizona 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 (2,641 m). While this side of the park has fewer saguaro than its counterpart they are larger in size, due to higher amounts of rainfall and run off from the Rincon Mountains.
The key feature of this district is its 8.3-mile (13.4 km) loop road, which provides access to the two picnic areas and the central trails. As of May 2012, Rincon Mountain District Visitor Center is undergoing extensive remodeling; and, the completion of this project is expected to occur at some point in September 2012.
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, however the road is no longer paved for the last couple hundred yards. This section of the park was added in 1991 when Congress authorized the purchase of an additional 4,011 acres (1,623 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 (9.5 km) hike. A wilderness permit is required for all overnight stays. The fee for this permit is $6.00 per campsite, per night. While there are no overnight accommodations for recreational vehicles in the park, but facilities are available at Colossal Cave Mountain Park which is ten miles (16 km) south of the Rincon District Visitor Center on Old Spanish Trail.
Gallery of Images
- "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "The National Parks: Index 2009–2011". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Saguaro Wilderness". Wilderness.net. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Saguaro Celebrates its 75th Anniversary". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- "Mica Mountain, Arizona". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- "Camping in Saguaro Wilderness Area". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saguaro National Park.|
- Official site: "Saguaro National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- "Saguaro National Park". saguaro.national-park.com/. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- "Friends of Saguaro National Park". Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- "Earthgoers Guide: Saguaro National Park". Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- "Saguaro National Park: the last stand of the Wild West Cactus". Wanderlust: A traveler’s diary. Retrieved 2011-06-03.