Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

Infobox_protected_area | name = Saguaro National Park
iucn_category = II

caption =
locator_x = 61
locator_y = 122
location = Pima County, Arizona, USA
nearest_city = Tucson
lat_degrees = 32
lat_minutes = 15
lat_seconds = 0
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 110
long_minutes = 30
long_seconds = 0
long_direction = W
area = 91,440 acres (370 km²)
established = October 14, 1994
visitation_num = 619,983
visitation_year = 2006
governing_body = National Park Service

Saguaro National Park, located in the state of Arizona, is part of the United States national park system.

Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections, lying approximately 20 miles (32 km) east and 15 miles (24 km) west of the center of the city of Tucson, Arizona. Total area in 2002 was 143 square miles (91,327 acres) (370 km²) of which 111 square miles (289 km²) is designated wilderness. There is a visitor center in each section. Both are easily reached by car from Tucson, but there is no public transport into either section. Both sections conserve fine tracts of the Sonoran Desert, including ranges of significant hills, the Tucson Mountains in the west and the Rincon Mountains in the east. The park gets its name from the saguaro cactus which is native to the region. Many other kinds of cactus, including barrel cactus, cholla cactus, and prickly pear, are also abundant in the park. One endangered animal, the Lesser Long-nosed Bat, lives in the park part of the year during its migration, together with one threatened species, the Mexican Spotted Owl.

The park was established as Saguaro National Monument on March 1, 1933, and changed to a national park on October 14, 1994.

Facilities in the park include 150 miles (240 km) of well marked and maintained hiking trails, and shorter walking trails with interpretative information available. Hiking is not advisable during the hot summer months.

Rincon Mountain District

The Rincon Mountain District is located at the eastern edge of Tucson, Arizona; the east side of the park was the original National Monument. What is unique about this park is that it starts off in the Sonoran Desert and gradually gives way to the High Alpine Forest of the Rincon Mountains. The highest peak in this range is Mica Mountain, at an elevation of 8,666 feet (2641 m). While this side of the park has fewer Saguaros than its counterpart they remain larger in size, due to higher amounts of rainfall and run off from the Rincon Mountains.

The key feature of this district is its convert|8.3|mi|km|sing=on loop, which connects its two picnic areas and central trails. Recently after a lengthy road improvement project, and refurbishment of the Visitor Center, the Rincon District is fully open once more.

Hiking on this side of the park is readily accessible to visitors. There are trail heads present at the east end of Speedway and Broadway, but these trail heads are commonly used by horses and get heavy usage on the weekends. Off the park's loop road there are several additional trail heads. Each Visitor Center will supply a map of hiking trails on request.

And at the southern boundary of the park is the Hope Camp Trails which are also commonly used for horses. Access to the Hope Camp Trails is found at the end of Camino Loma Alta, however the road is no longer paved for the last couple hundred yards. This section of the park was added in 1991 when Congress authroized the purchase of convert|4011|acre|km2.

The East Unit is open to camping, but camping is confined to backcountry sites, the shortest hike to one is convert|5.9|mi|km to Douglas Springs Campground. Fees for campsites are $6.00 a night. While there is not spots for RV’s overnight in the park, Colossal Cave Mountain Park which is ten miles (16 km) down Old Spanish Trail from the park can provide such space.

Be aware that dogs are not allowed on the trails, and must be on a leash at all times. Bicycles are confined to the loop road and the Cactus Forest Trail.

ee also

*List of areas in the National Park System of the United States

External links

* Official site: [ Saguaro National Park]
* [ Photo collection] from USGS
* [ Friends of Saguaro National Park]

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