Saguaro National Park

by Kaylah Stroup

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.

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!

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

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Alexandra June 24, 2015 - 2:03 pm

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!

Kaylah June 24, 2015 - 6:23 pm

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.

Indy June 24, 2015 - 2:32 pm

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! 🙂

Kaylah June 24, 2015 - 6:24 pm

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.

Laura Morris June 24, 2015 - 3:12 pm

Eeeek! I've never seen a jackrabbit in person before but oh my goshhhhh your picture has me all excited! Their ears are amazing.

Kaylah June 24, 2015 - 6:25 pm

The best thing is that's just a little guy. The adults have WAY bigger ears. They're so ridiculously cute.

Kelly Del Valle June 24, 2015 - 5:04 pm

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!

Kaylah June 24, 2015 - 6:26 pm

DO IT. Arizona is so awesome!

Also – you have cactus in Florida? I definitely did not know that.

Cheap Glam Sugar Punk June 24, 2015 - 6:19 pm

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.

Kaylah June 24, 2015 - 7:11 pm

I think that's a myth. I did a whole bunch of research on how to tell how old they are that wasn't something I recall reading. Regardless, the big ones are definitely OLD.

Cheap Glam Sugar Punk June 25, 2015 - 2:00 am

I'm not surprised. BTW if you're ever in Tucson you neeeeed to check out Valley of the Moon

julia June 24, 2015 - 7:31 pm

this looks so awesome! the cactus u described really made me smile 🙂

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 12:58 pm

You see it, right?!

Lela Bungard June 24, 2015 - 9:10 pm

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.

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:00 pm

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!

Lucy in the Sky June 25, 2015 - 12:38 am

It must have been so amazing to explore this place! Would love to visit it someday.

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:00 pm

Yes! A definite must visit for sure!

Tara Hammond June 25, 2015 - 2:48 am

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!

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:02 pm

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!

Otter June 25, 2015 - 4:19 am

These photos are fantastic! I love Saguaro National Park so so much!!

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:02 pm

Thanks, Otter! 🙂

Laura Mitbrodt June 25, 2015 - 6:20 am

wow this park looks amazing

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:02 pm

It 100% is!

hedgefairy June 25, 2015 - 9:40 am

That looks like a great place! I especially love the rabbit and the lizard on the cactus, great shot!

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:02 pm

Thank you!!

Damaris // The cat, you and us June 25, 2015 - 12:55 pm

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!

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:03 pm

They're insanely quick! I'm shocked this one let me as close as he did.

Jennifer Thall June 26, 2015 - 1:34 am

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."

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:04 pm

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

Kylee June 26, 2015 - 2:10 am

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. ☺️

Kaylah June 26, 2015 - 1:04 pm

It is. After this trip, Arizona is without a doubt my favorite state. I'm dying to come back already.

Molliwog June 26, 2015 - 7:09 pm

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.

Kaylah June 30, 2015 - 1:37 pm

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.

zooxanthele June 26, 2015 - 9:25 pm

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!

Kaylah June 30, 2015 - 1:36 pm

Joshua Trees are pretty darn cool though! Not as cool as Saguaros in my book, but still super strange to me and therefore really awesome.

Kara June 30, 2015 - 4:42 am

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.

Kaylah June 30, 2015 - 1:36 pm

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!

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