Saguaro National Park – Rincon Mountain District (East)

Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona is split into two districts by the city of Tuscon: Saguaro East – Rincon Mountain District and Saguaro West – Tucson Mountain District. I visited the Rincon Mountain District in 2014 while working at my internship in Phoenix. It was my first of many weekend day-trips to explore the state.

The 2.5 hour drive down I-10 was an adventure. I was just tootling along, enjoying the scenery when I saw off the road in the distance this swirling cloud of dirt. I remember wondering what it was. Ten minutes later, one slammed into the side of my truck scaring me half to death. My coworkers on Monday enjoyed my description of the harrowing experience and explained to me that it was a Dust Devil. They also forewarned me about Haboobs. I thought they were pulling my leg on that one. Haboobs? Really? You’re kidding. (They weren’t.)

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I drove the 8 mile Cactus Flower Loop Scenic Drive. It is a paved one way road that winds through a small section of the park. To experience more of the park you have to walk or ride. Horseback riding is permitted on most trails. Back-country camping is allowed for a fee at designated sites.

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Saguaro Cactus

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I walked the 0.25 mile self-guided Desert Ecology Trail to learn more about the plants that grow in the Sonoran Desert. The trail is wheel chair accessible. Don’t be fooled by the short distance tho, take water with you if it is hot outside. There are a couple benches along the trail that would have made for nice places to relax and appreciate the scenery, but I was too thirsty to sit for long.

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Saguaro Cacti can live for up to 250 years. They have large white flowers, which are Arizona’s state flower. It’s amazing how tall they can get – 40 to 60 feet! Saguaro Cacti are only found in the Sonoran Desert.

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a saguaro cacti can grow over 25 arms

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I look forward to spending more time at Saguaro National Park. Still on my Bucket List is:

  • Hike in the Cactus Forest (Rincon District)
  • Camp in the Saguaro Wilderness Area (Rincon District)
  • Drive the Bajada Loop Drive (Tucson Mountain District)