Bracketing Tucson like bookends, the two halves of Saguaro National Park -- a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area -- comprise 91,327 acres of urban recreation areas and prime expanses of desert and montane wilderness. Their washes and foothills preserve some of the finest examples of dense Giant Saguaro cactus forest. Giant saguaro cacti, unique to the Sonoran Desert, sometimes reach a height of 50 feet in Saguaro National Park. Preserved along with it are many other members of the Sonoran Desert community -- other cacti, desert trees and shrubs, birds, and animals.
Trails in the arid Saguaro West district rise to over 4,600 feet, while those in the larger Saguaro East district penetrate the high, cool forests of the Rincon Mountains and provide a true wilderness experience. Loop drives in both sections provide splendid scenery and short trails for briefer visits. Gila Monsters, Elf Owls, Harris’s Hawks, Collared Peccaries, and an array of other desert dwellers are often seen or heard. Couch’s Spadefoot toads emerge in huge, cacophonous numbers following the first heavy summer rains.
Saguaro National Park is a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Cavities hammered into Giant Saguaros by Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers, for example, shelter the nests of about a dozen bird species, while paloverde and mesquite seeds are a nutritious source for animals from bruchid beetles to Coyotes.
Have you been to this park? How many stars would you give it?