Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Cactus Forest Drive

In yesterday's entry, our photographs showed scenes encountered on roughly half of the eight-mile Cactus Forest Drive through a portion of the Saguaro National Park.

Today we complete the course, photographically.
"The saguaro has been described as the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, as a prickly horror, as the supreme symbol of the American Southwest, and as a plant with personality. It is renowned for the variety of odd, all-too-human shapes it assumes, shapes that inspire wild and fanciful imaginings.

"Giant saguaro cacti, unique to the Sonoran Desert, sometimes reach a height of 50 feet in this cactus forest, which covers the valley floor, rising into the Rincon and West Tucson mountains. Since 1933 this extraordinary giant cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park. In lushness and variety of life the Sonoran Desert far surpasses all other North American deserts" (http://www.desertusa.com/sag/du_sag_index.html).

The area was established as Saguaro National Monument on March 1, 1933, and later became a national park on October 14, 1994. It protects the saguaro cactus which is native to the region.
We continue to be intrigued by the desert, primarily because of its contrast to the scenery of the Mid-Atlantic states.

We also enjoy the challenge of finding splashes of color in the rather monotone nature of the desert in mid-winter.

At other times it was the shape and form of the cactus that caught our attention. The hooks on this fishhook barrel cactus are one example.
Near the completion of the drive, we passed by the Javelina Rocks and found some saguaro cacti thriving in some unusual places.

The Rincon Mountains and the Sonoran Desert present a stunning contrast to the city of Tucson, and a setting that will only increase in beauty in the spring.

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