🌵 Amazing Cactus of Saguaro NP

Saguaro  National Park
"I prefer the cactus, for the simple reason that it has a more interesting personality. It has wonderfully adapted itself to its surroundings! It is the best illustration of the theory of evolution in plant life." - Charles Proteus Steinmetz.

I'm a tree lover. A hugger and even a sniffer of trees. What can I say, they speak to me. The way they seem to grow in some of the most bizarre and curious locations - between rocks, jutting out from the canyon, split down the center by lightning, no matter the challenge, the great ones overcome and thrive! That's why when we made our way down the path in Saguaro National Park and met our first cactus, I fell instantly in love.

Cactus Are Cool
Talk about adversity. Talk about thriving in a world where nothing seems to live. But, if you take a closer look around you in the desert, you'll see some of the strangest forms of beauty and peculiarity on the planet. This ecosystem is foreign to me, but now that I've stood on the threshold of strange and peaked in . . . I must know more!

Saguaro Cactus
On our way to Saguaro, we made a pitstop at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum where our eyes were dazzled by so many varieties of cactus. WOW! is an understatement. To think there are this many different species of cactus and succulents is mind-blowing.

Purple Cactus
From prickly pears to chollas, pin cushions to organ pipes, and barrel to beavertails, it's all proof (to me) that I need to step back, stop talking, and learn more from my surroundings and these cactus. Choose to see the positive in even the most desolate and desperate situations.

Prickly Pear Cactus
After visiting the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, we wanted to feature cactus on the first season of RV There Yet? We picked a date, flew the crew out to Arizona, and filmed a segment for the show at Saguaro National Park East - the Rincon Mountain District. We knew it was going to be an interesting day when on the drive into the park, a Gila Monster was crossing the street. We got to check out one of the most interesting lizards on the planet. They are highly venomous, but we didn't get close enough to find out. What a great way to start our day in the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaro National Park Rincon District is a paved 8 mile one-way loop with pull offs for hiking trails and scenic views along the way. Instead of making the long drive, we decided to take the RVs down to the picnic area and see if we could find a place to park both vehicles. We made the right decision as there were two spaces to park and a hiking trail located near by. So we suited up in our hiking gear and headed out into the Sonoran Desert. Our cactus quest was on.

FYI . . . we do not recommend taking your RV to Saguaro National Park East as it was not designed with RV parking in mind. Saguaro National Park West, on the other hand, has adequate parking for RVs and larger vehicles.

The first cactus we came to was a cute little round guy that was close to the ground - the fish hook barrel cactus. We have worked in the fishing industry for the past 20+ years, and this cactus was a great tribute to our past careers. The barrel cactus was such a fascinating first cactus on our hike. We came upon the ocotillo next . The gangly arms of this creature can reach out and touch you if you're not careful. You have to duck under and make sure you don't get stuck as you pass by this large cactus. Further up our hike, Producerman got to tell us about the jumping cholla. This was the cactus to watch out for. Producerman used to work for the Senior PGA golf tournaments in Arizona and the boss would warn us about the jumping cholla. Their spiny orbs can jettison off and stick to your shoes or pant legs. This is why we suggest wearing long pants while hiking in the desert. Ranger Dave found out the hard way by not wearing pants and getting too close to the jumping cholla. Ouch . . . that had to hurt! He wasn't the only one. One of our cameraman wasn't looking where he was going and got the same treatment as Ranger Dave. Jumping cholla are not to be taken lightly. Keep your eyes up and carry a walking stick when possible.

Our final cactus we ran into on our short picnic hike was the grand saguaro - the namesake of Saguaro National Park. This towering giant can reach over 15 feet in height and can be seen from a long way off. The landscape in Saguaro National Park is covered with saguaros of all sizes and shapes. The arms outstretched in awkward angles. They resemble people in many ways with arms and noses if you use your imagination. The Sonoran Desert is the only place you will find wild saguaro cactus.

Whether you visit Saguaro National Park East in your car or West in your RV, you will witness the largest variety of cactus on the planet in an around the Tucson area. It is only in this region of the United States that you will find so many different species of cactus including one that is native to Arizona - the Saguaro. We really enjoyed our short hike and saw so many different cactus. We will be back to Southern Arizona to celebrate the cactus.

Sure, one might come out of it all with a few extra sharp edges and perhaps a little prickly, but that thorny, murderous exterior is called survival. That's why these beautiful, hearty plants will be here LONG after we're gone. I just won't be hugging or sniffing one of these fellas anytime soon.

Watch the segment below as we hike our way through the cactus desert at the Saguaro National Park East Rincon District. If you want to watch the full episode of our time in Southern Arizona, click here to watch "Another World".