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Saguaro National Park: the cactus park in Arizona

Saguaro National Park is located in southeastern Arizona. The park is divided into two sections that are located 20 miles (32 km) east and 15 miles (24 km) west of the city of Tucson in Arizona, respectively.

The park, as a whole, covers an area of 370 sq km. It takes its name from the Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), a large cactus that grows in the Sonora desert, in southern Arizona and in the adjacent area of Mexico.

The park was created to protect the area where large concentrations of these cacti grow. About 1,600,000 Saguaro plants grow there. Many other types of cactus are present in the area of the park, among them the barrel cactus (Ferocactus and Echinocactus), the cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia), and the prickly pear (Opuntia) are abundant.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO VISIT IN THE SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK

The park is divided into two sections about 35 miles apart. Both sections of the park retain beautiful sections of the Sonora Desert. These also include areas of the Tucson Mountains to the west and the Rincon Mountains to the east.

In the east section it is possible to travel with your vehicle, for a total of 8 miles (12.9 km), the Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive. This is a circular route on a paved road that allows you to observe the nature of the park, to stop in some panoramic points or to take short walks (Mica View, Desert Ecology Trail, Javelina, Freeman Homestead Trail). The path is equipped with picnic areas.

In the west section you can travel with your own vehicle, the Scenic Bajada Loop Drive. It is a circular path on a dirt road (however suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles), in total 6 miles (9.7 km) that allows you to observe nature and stop in some scenic spots or take short walks. This route is also equipped with picnic areas.

Inside the park there are 150 miles (240 km) of well-maintained and marked paths. In addition there are also shorter itineraries with signs explaining the desert habitat. In the summer months, because of the heat, it is not recommended to go for walks in the park.

HOW TO GET

Car: Both sections of the park are easily accessible by car from Tucson from which they are less than 20 miles (32 km) away. There is no public transport for the park, so to visit it you need to have your own vehicle.

Plane: The closest airports are located in Tucson and Phoenix (Arizona).

USEFUL INFORMATION

Hours: Both sections of the park are open all year round from 7:00 am until sunset. The park is closed on Christmas day.

Tickets: The entrance ticket costs $ 10.00 per vehicle and also includes all vehicle passengers. The entrance fee for those arriving without a vehicle (on foot, by bicycle) is $ 5.00 per person. The ticket is valid for 7 days.

Saguaro National Park services available: In each section of the park there is a visitor center, they are open every day from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm excluding Christmas day.

Inside the park there are no hotels and campsites and no other type of accommodation for the night. In the towns around the park you can find all kinds of accommodation.

CLIMATE: WHEN TO GO TO SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK

The Tucson area is known for its mild winters and hot summers. While there are two rainy periods, the summer rains that occur between July and August and the winter ones that occur between December and January.

The climate is semi-desert with an average annual rainfall of about 290 mm. The average maximum summer temperatures reach peaks between 36 ° C and 39 ° C between June and September.

Due to the very hot climate in summer, the park is most visited between November and April.

ACCOMMODATIONS, APARTMENTS, B&B AND HOTELS

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