August 5, 2017

ARIZONA : Arizona Sunset Saguaro - Saguaro N.P.

Southwest Sunset

Desert cacti silhouette sunset, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona is part of the National Park System in the United States. The park land consists of two distinct areas—the Tucson Mountain District (TMD) west of the city of Tucson and the Rincon Mountain District (RMD) east of the city—that preserve Sonoran Desert landscapes and diverse fauna and flora, including the giant saguaro cactus. The volcanic rocks on the surface of the TMD differ greatly from the surface rocks of the RMD; over the past 30 million years, crustal stretching associated with the Basin and Range displaced rocks from beneath the Tucson Mountains to form the Rincon Mountains. Uplifted, domed, and eroded, the Rincon Mountains remain significantly higher and wetter than the Tucson Mountains, and the higher elevations of the RMD support plant and animal populations that do not exist in the TMD.

Earlier residents of and visitors to the lands in and around the park before its creation included the Hohokam, Sobaipuri, Tohono O'odham, Apaches, Spanish explorers, missionaries, miners, homesteaders, and ranchers. In 1933, President Herbert Hoover, using the power of the Antiquities Act, established the original park as Saguaro National Monument. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy added the TMD and re-named the original tract the RMD. Congress combined the TMD and the RMD to form the national park in 1994.

Hiking on the park's 165 miles (266 km) of trails and sightseeing along loop drives near the park's visitor centers are popular activities. Both districts have picnic areas and allow bicycling and horseback riding on selected roads and trails. The TMD forbids overnight camping, but the RMD supports limited wilderness camping. Both districts offer ranger-led walking tours and other educational programs.

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