Let’s start with this: it’s pronounced “sa-WAH-ro.” These cacti are only found in the Sonoran Desert, and only up to a certain elevation (they can’t survive the colder temperatures).
The saguaro sprouts from a tiny black seed.
A 6-foot tall saguaro is around 35 years old. They often sprout their arms when they reach about 10–15ft.
Which means saguaros that are super tall, and have lots of arms, are really old!
We took a guided walk (they’re free!) with Park Ranger Jeff, who took us off the trail to see the giant above. That cactus is around 150 years old! The ranger program was very informative! We learned a lot about the saguaro, and also other cacti, local trees, and the impact people and the changing climate have had on this area. We’re now very good at spotting the state tree of Arizona, the Palo Verde:
After the ranger program, we did the Mica View Loop. It was an easy walk that gave us plenty of opportunities to admire the saguaros (and all those other plants we learned about, too).
There are lots of trails and they often intersect. The markers are helpful, but I’d recommend reviewing the trail map with a ranger before you set out.
The saguaro is supported on the inside by woody ribs. When the cactus dies, the ribs sometimes remain standing.
To access some of the trail heads, you have to take the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. This is a one-way 8-mile road that begins and ends at the visitor’s center. It’s a very pretty drive with great views of the desert and surrounding mountains. There are some overlooks along the route for checking out the views or taking a walk to see the Javelina Rocks.