Destination List > Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park
Photo by Desert LCC
Saguaro National Park is located in southeastern Arizona. The 92,000-acre (37,000 ha) park consists of two separate areas—the Tucson Mountain District (TMD) about 10 miles (16 km) west of the city of Tucson and the Rincon Mountain District (RMD) about 10 miles (16 km) east of the city—that preserve Sonoran Desert landscapes, fauna, and flora, including the giant saguaro cactus.
The volcanic rocks on the surface of the Tucson Mountain District differ greatly from the surface rocks of the Rincon Mountain District; over the past 30 million years, crustal stretching moved rocks from beneath the Tucson Mountains of the Tucson Mountain District to form the Rincon Mountains of the Rincon Mountain District. Uplifted, domed, and eroded, the Rincon Mountains are significantly higher and wetter than the Tucson Mountains. The Rincons support high biodiversity and are home to many plants and animals that do not live in the Tucson Mountain District.
Earlier residents of and visitors to area around the park included the Hohokam, Sobaipuri, Tohono O'odham, Apaches, Spanish explorers, missionaries, miners, homesteaders, and ranchers. In 1933, President Herbert Hoover used the power of the Antiquities Act to establish the original park, Saguaro National Monument, in the Rincon Mountains. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy added the Tucson Mountain District to the monument and renamed the original tract the Rincon Mountain District. Congress combined the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District to form the national park in 1994.
Popular activities in the park include hiking on its 165 miles (266 km) of trails and sightseeing along paved roads near its two visitor centers. Both districts allow bicycling and horseback riding on selected roads and trails. The Rincon Mountain District offers limited wilderness camping, but there is no overnight camping in the Tucson Mountain District.