Saguaro National Park is located to the west and east of Tucson, AZ, home of the giant saguaro and the largest cacti in the country. The giant saguaro have become the symbol of the American West, and are found in few parts of the nation. Visitors to the park can view these massive, majestic cacti with the beautiful desert sunset in the background. Saguaro National Park is about much more than just cactus though. People have lived in the area for thousands of years, from the prehistoric Hohokam to ranchers and homesteaders. They all left their own mark on the land as they raised families, planted crops, hunted, and tended livestock.
Saguaro National Monument in Arizona was established by Herbert Hoover on March 1, 1933. The monument contained the almost empty desert, fifteen miles to the east of Tucson. Times, however, sometimes change quickly. President Franklin Roosevelt, just two months later, gave the order for sixteen national monuments to be given to the National Park Service. Thus, Saguaro started its journey to the national park it is today.
This progress was often painful. Young cacti were trampled on by cattle for decades, "cactus rustling" was rampant, and water had to be hauled from the town's center by early rangers. Aging cacti and a lack of regeneration caused many people to believe the giant saguaro was a dying breed, quite a bit like the frontier life the cactus symbolized.
In the 1950's, a visitor center was opened in the park, and a better understanding of the life cycle of the giant saguaro through significant scientific research was brought by 1970. President Kennedy, at the urging of Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall and the citizens of Tucson, added an additional twenty-five square miles of spectacular cactus lands located in the Tucson Mountains to the Saguaro National Monument. The national monument became Saguaro National Park in 1994 after Congress set aside an expansive amount of wilderness area. Photo: Eric/Fotolia
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Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona
- Wilderness Hiking, Photo: Courtesy of miroslav_1 - Fotolia.com
- Nature & Science, Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com
- Animals, Photo: Courtesy of Laurens - Fotolia.com
- Plants, Photo: Courtesy of CrackerClips - Fotolia.com
- Water in Saguaro National Park, Photo: Courtesy of acidbeast - Fotolia.com
- Junior Ranger Programs, Photo: Courtesy of Dennis - Fotolia.com
- Not So Junior Ranger Program, Photo: Courtesy of Karoline- Fotolia.com
- Summer Programs, Photo: Courtesy of PiLensPhoto - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Eric - Fotolia.com