Saguaro cacti are elegant and unusually tough plants surviving with very little water and growing very tall. Each one has its own distinctive shape. Some of the saguaros seem to be gesturing and beckoning, even waving at us sometimes. I have never seen plants or trees that are so individualistic. In my photo, you can see the saguaro cactus’ basic upright habit. These amazingly strong cacti definitely celebrate diversity, as each one mysteriously grows branches in a unique configuration. Look at them, but do not touch–they have very dangerous spikes that cover their surfaces like porcupine quills. In this cactus forest, there are plenty of warning signs for tourists. Just driving through the Saguaro National Park is a fantastic experience.
Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona was first established in 1933 for the purpose of protecting the giant saguaro cactus (Carnegia gigantean) and the associated Sonoran Desert and Sky Island ecological areas. Following several park expansions in subsequent decades, the National Park Service continually works to preserve desert, mountain and riparian habitats in the Tucson and Rincon Mountains, as well as the largest roadless “sky island” in North America — all of which comprise a wide range of elevations that support extraordinary biodiversity. 78% of the Park’s 91,327 acres are federally-designated wilderness. Saguaro National Park is being preserved, its wilderness qualities protected, while understanding and stewardship of its natural resources are promoted through ongoing scientific research.