Monday walk…Saguaro National Park

Posted: August 31, 2020 in Monday walk
Tags: , , , , , ,

We’re taking a break from Wyoming this week (but we will definitely be back there again) to start a series about a walk we took to Saguaro National Park on Saturday. My husband’s been working nonstop since the middle of July and this was the first opportunity he’s had to get out of the area around our house. So we took advantage of it.

When you think of cacti, you’re likely to think of the iconic saguaro (sue-waar’-oh), its arms extending upward, and in southern Arizona near Tuscon, these giants have their own national park. Saguaro National Monument was created in 1933 and there have been several additions since that time and the switch to a national park. We’ll focus just the saguaro today, even though there are a plethora of cactus types here.

The saguaro isn’t just another pretty face! It serves as an apartment for a variety of desert creatures, one reason you see one often pockmarked with openings.

It’s difficult to imagine or convey how many saguaros there are in the park. To say there’s a forest of them isn’t to understate! I found myself laughing and shaking my head quite a few times during the day when I saw how many there were.

If you (carefully) touch a saguaro, you’ll feel a hard surface. The accordion-like skin expands when full and shrinks when conditions are drier. As odd as it seems to us, all those spines provide a sort of shade for the cactus. But a cactus can also die, as seen in the photo below. That’s really a cactus skeleton.

Not every saguaro is in lockstep with the traditional, expected arms-up posture. Some have a much more quirky look.

I plan to come back here in spring when there will be millions of beautiful white flowers, Arizona’s state flowers, atop the arms. Bee, birds, and bats love these flowers while providing pollination. The flowers are only open for a short time but flower sequentially and there are also red fruit. Take a quick look here for more information and photos. It’s well worth your time to learn more about this keystone species. Here’s an unusual tidbit to close off our visit for today:

In 1982, a man was killed after damaging a saguaro. David Grundman was shooting and poking at a saguaro cactus in an effort to make it fall. An arm of the cactus, weighing 500 lb (230 kg), fell onto him, crushing him and his car. The trunk of the cactus then also fell on him. The Austin Lounge Lizards wrote the song “Saguaro” about this death. Wikipedia

That makes this Farmer’s Insurance ad entirely possible. (Note: no endorsement here except for a good commercial.)

for Jo’s Monday Walk

  1. Leya says:

    Interesting walk, Janet. What a landscape! I had never heard of a saguaro before.

  2. Sue says:

    What a landscape, Janet!

  3. peggyjoan42 says:

    You’re running all over the Arizona that I love. I miss the West each time I see the Saguaro cactus. In the 20+ years I lived in different areas of Arizona – I never heard the story of the Saguaro falling on the man and his car. “Well, I guess he deserved what he got – trying to destroy the cactus is against the law.

  4. Dear Janet,

    The Saguaros are a sight to behold in person. We visited my BIL in Arizona a couple of years ago in the spring. Beautiful scenery. Definitely a change from the Midwest.



    PS Thank you for the birthday card. 😉

    • Glad you got to see them in person, Rochelle, and thanks for stopping by. It’s always good to hear from you. Glad the card made it as well. Mail being what it is these days, you never know. 🙂

  5. de Wets Wild says:

    Absolutely amazing scenes, Janet!
    (You certainly don’t want to go stumbling around in the Saguaro National Park when you’ve had a tad too much to drink…)

  6. I’m amazed at how many there are, just from seeing your photos. They’ve always been one of my favorite icons of the west and I hope to see them again one day. My sister was born in Tuscon, and we moved away when I was only a few years old. But I remember seeing them on a vacation with my parents when I was a teenager, and even then found them impressive.

  7. lolaWi says:

    thank you for featuring this beautiful park, Janet! we visited in the Spring with all the blooms and indeed, what a sight to behold!

  8. restlessjo says:

    Well, that’s not a nice moral to the story, but I enjoyed your cacti till then. Many thanks, Janet! Have a great week! 🤗🌵💕

  9. We spent a lot of time in Arizona and southeast California and I study a lot about the native flora of the regions but your post gave information about saguaros. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Jet Eliot says:

    Wonderful intro to the amazing saguaros, Janet. Such a versatile and fascinating plant, and I enjoyed your photos too. I have been to the AZ desert once, and was astounded to see these cacti in person; without planning it, I happened to be there during flowering time and was dazzled. Gila woodpeckers and gilded flickers create nesting holes that give nesting homes to other birds. Great post.

    • It’s just astonishing how many saguaros there are in that park!! But there are so many other species of cactus that it was quite a joy. Just pay attention to where you’re going! 🙂

  11. Rupali says:

    Very impressive and interesting landscape.

  12. Resa says:

    What a powerful plant! Neat shots, Janet, and a very interesting tale about a saguaro killing a man.

  13. Wild about that guy being killed under the weight of the cacti!
    I loved seeing the cacti driving from Phoenix to Sedona last Fall. ❤️🦋🌀

    • Yeah, that story was something, wasn’t it? The cacti between Phoenix and Sedona are really great, but the number of cacti in general and saguaro in particular is even better in the park. Can’t wait to see them in bloom!


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