Saguaro National Park, formerly known as Saguaro National Monument is a national park in southern Arizona, east and west of Tucson, containing thousands of saguaro cacti.
The Tucson Mountain section is about 7 miles (11 km) west of Tucson, while the Rincon Mountain section is approximately the same distance east of the city. In the western area the cacti tend to be smaller, younger, and more vigorous than those in the eastern section, where many giant saguaro specimens are decaying with age.
In 1933, Congress established Saguaro National Monument in Arizona to protect one of the world’s most impressive saguaro forests. In 1994, a second forest 30 miles (48 kilometers) to the west was added, and Saguaro became a national park. Both sections can be toured by car along scenic drives.
They can also be visited on foot or on horseback on backcountry trails. In addition to the saguaro, visitors see a variety of plants and animals. Each species has adapted over the centuries in order to survive in one of the hottest and driest regions of North America. Among the many plants is the ocotillo, a tree that grows leaves after each rainstorm, then drops them as moisture disappears.
The animals of Saguaro include Gila monsters (a type of lizard), desert tortoises, roadrunners, and javelinas (a kind of boar). Woodpeckers and flickers drill holes in the giant cacti. Some of the cacti become nests for kestrels, owls, warblers, cactus wrens, and other birds.