Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park was our very first real stop of the road trip. I very clearly have a thing for cactuses so this was obviously somewhere I’ve wanted to go since the second I realized there was actually a national park filled with them. It did not disappoint. If
I didn’t love cactuses before this park, I 100% do now. 
Actually as soon
as we got out of the airport in Phoenix and onto the shuttle to the rental car
place I was losing my mind over the all the incredible things growing in
Arizona. As we were pulling out with our rental car the guy had to
check Jeff’s license, saw we were from Ohio, and said something along the lines of “Oh, I went
there last year. You guys have a lot of green stuff…” Being in Arizona
is like being in a totally different world.

It’s a blast to see so many different things I can’t identify or that I’ve never seen in person before. Speaking of, in the park we had so many encounters with wildlife! Tons and tons of lizards, jackrabbits (which are WAY cuter than the bunnies we have in Ohio!), and even a coyote who I did not take a picture of. He was casually crossing the road. Jeff and I just stared in awe. Eventually Jeff said “Aren’t you going to get out your camera!?” to which my response was “No, I kind of just want to enjoy this…” I didn’t want to ruin the moment shuffling for my camera. It was so awesome just to watch this beautiful thing sauntering along through the massive cactuses.

I particularly liked the cactus below in the center of the photo because it looks like he dropped something. His arms are hanging down and he’s leaning forward like he maybe tripped. Do you see it? Totally silly, and maybe it was the heat getting to me but I was cracking up.

In hindsight I wish we would have spent more time there. It was hot, and we were definitely not used to the high temperatures yet. I actually had to change into shorts beside the car in the middle of the park because I was roasting.  I was also having a hard time photographing what I saw. Like no picture I took could seem to capture the beauty that was surrounding me. It’s certainly an amazing place, perhaps my favorite national park I’ve visited so far!

PS. Did you know these puppies can grow up to 50ft tall, and live 150-200 years old?! Gah! They’re so cool!

 You can find more travel related posts under the “travel” tag.

Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Love these photos! It's crazy how many different environments/landscapes there are just in this country. I definitely need to see these in person one day!

    • Right?! I think it really took until this trip for me to realize holy cow, it's SO different over here! Makes me want to spend more time on the other side of the US.

  • Yeah, the first time I visited Arizona I was floored pretty much right as we left the airport! I had never been to the south before (I'm from the Midwest, too), so I was just in awe of the cacti, the palm trees, and the mountains! That trip sparked the traveling bug in me like nothing before!

    Your photos capture the atmosphere of the park so well. I love the Saguaro cacti so much – the just seem to have attitude! πŸ™‚

    • I was the only person smiling on the shuttle. Everyone else looked so grumpy and I was just "look! look at that! it's so beauuuutiful!" Haha! It's crazy how beautiful it is even right outside the airport.

  • Oh my goodness – these photos are all making me want to take a trip out west! The cacti species we have here are cool and all, but I'd love to visit this park. Love this post!

  • I grew up in Tucson so these pictures really take me back! I'm not sure if this is an urban legend type thing, but I always heard that each "arm" on a saguaro cactus means it's about 50 years. So if it has two, it would be 100.

  • What wonderful pictures! I have some cacti, like in the picture under the rabbit, that survive the Indiana cold (through shear magic?) I'm getting ready to plant them along our house.

    • Yeah, I've seen those so many places out this way. Actually the home I lived in before I moved to Cleveland had a little tiny one growing. I don't know how they survive out here but I dig it!

  • I really want to go here! I grew up in Las Vegas and used to seriously hate the desert but I realized it's because Vegas is just hot and not very pretty. I absolutely love the Southwest landscape outside of Vegas!

    • Yeah, I'm not a huge Las Vegas fan. I've only been there once but it was easily one of the worst places I've been. I'm sure it has redeeming qualities and pretty spots somewhere but I didn't see them. I'd love to go back just to find those things!

  • Wow! This is such a special place! Your road trip was a perfect adventure in my eyes. I recently discovered a cacti garden here in Barcelona that has become my one of my favorite parts of the city but certainly lacks the wild charming of the Saguaro, wow I'm speechless. I should look further information about cactus. Aww cute bunnies, aren't they too elusive to take a pic? great shot!

  • This post makes me so happy/nostalgic! I grew up in Tucson and I have a hard time conveying to people the vast amounts of flora and fauna, because they're stuck with an image of deserts as nothing more than dusty and barren.

    BTW, I always learned that saguaros don't start growing their first arm until they're 50-70 yrs old, but after that, multiple arms can sprout relatively "quickly."

    • Yeah, I was shocked over how many things y'all have growing out there. So many flowers I have never ever seen.

      Desert flora > midwest flora

  • Ahh my home state. Have lived here all 23 years of my life. Never plan on leaving! You can be in the desert surrounded by cacti the drive 3 hours and be in the mountains. Arizona is truly a magical place. Glad you enjoyed it so much and hope you'll be back to visit. ☺️

  • I'm from Nevada and your pictures make me miss home. Jackrabbits are fantastic and don't worry, whenever your in the west you're bound to see coyote. Glad you had a lovely time.

    • Jackrabbits are so awesome. After that little one above we saw SO many on the rest of the trip and every single one I was squealing about how cute it was.

  • I love Saguaros! I was always so mad as a child that they didn't grow where I live, despite living in a desert (just the wrong desert for saguaros). Joshua Trees just seemed so boring compared to the whimsical cacti that had arms like people!

  • Being an AZ native, I love this post! It's true – AZ is like a weird alien landscape, even we think so! Every time I travel to the midwest I'm amazed at the greenery. Fun story for you: when I was growing up, there was a house on a busy street near my neighborhood that we passed a lot that had a GIANT saguaro cactus in the front yard (here, it's typical to have cactus in your landscape). It was enormous and my mom would always say, "I wonder if that thing is ever going to fall down". Well one day we drove by as usual, and it had fallen RIGHT ON TOP OF THE CAR parked out front!! Believe it or not, it totaled the car. The man who lived in the house was featured in our local news saying that he'd thrown rocks at the cactus as a kid, so it was getting the ultimate payback. We still laugh about that.

    • Hahahahah! That's awesome.

      I can't believe it totaled the car! Well, I mean, I believe because I remember reading how much they weigh but that's crazy!