Saguaro National Park, and Tucson

I forgot to mention that our return from Mexico was punctuated with a puncture. (Yep, that pun was intended.) One of Zippys tires went flat with a hiss right as John tucked her in behind The Beast in our campsite at Organ Pipe National Monument. We made the two-and-a-half hour drive to Tucson on the spare, dry-camped The Beast on BLM land on the edge of town, and set out to get the tired fixed.

The following morning we were near the front of a long line of people hoping for a coveted site in Tucson Mountain Park Campground, right next to Saguaro National Park. We scored one, relocated The Beast, and headed to the visitors center in the park. Saguaro National Park is unique in that it’s broken into two sections… the west; Tucson Mountain District, and the east; Rincon Mountain District. We were in the west district, and as it turned out, never made it to the east distract because of timing and weather.

We spent what was left of our day driving through the park, and doing a few short hikes. The Manville Loop Trail took us out to numerous petroglyphs.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs, Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USAPetroglyphs, Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Petroglyphs, Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

 

As sunset was nearing I went out on my own in search of the perfect vista point. I never actually found one, but played creatively with the cactus instead….

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro, Cholla and Ocotillo cactus

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro and Cholla Cactus featured

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro and Prickly Pear Cactus featured

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

The desert at sunset

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro aglow

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Cholla at sunset

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Saguaro and Cholla at sunset

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Lone Saguaro

 

The following morning we set out on the Hugh Norris Trail which takes you high up on a ridge above the park. We had to turn back before reaching Wasson Peak (4687′ elevation) because I had an appointment to get to.  (Time to see a doctor for a nagging cough I’d been dragging along for more than two months!)

We fully intend to come back to complete this trail next year! We’ll also take time to visit the Rincon Mountain District.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Balancing rock and Saguaro

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

John on the trail… Barrel Cactus featured

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

Common Sotol (I believe)

After my appointment we headed out to Mission San Xavier del Bac, which I heard was worth a visit. It is very pretty and ornate, but challenging to photograph since there were numerous other visitors roaming around.

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Interior of Mission San Xavier del Bac

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Ornate detail of Mission San Xavier del Bac

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Dome interior, Mission San Xavier del Bac

When we stepped back outside things got a lot more fun for me when I spotted a road-runner. I expected I’d get one or two shots and he’d be gone in a flash, but I was actually able to follow him for awhile. After awhile he did indeed hit the road in a flash.

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Road Runner

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Curious Road Runner

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Road Runner

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Road Runner taking a leap

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Ball Cactus

 

Another colorful evening…

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Sunset in Tucson

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Sunset in the desert

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Sunset

While there we also took the time to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s really a very nice museum, and actually more like an animal park. I would highly recommend going at a time of day when the animals would be more active and visible, which we did not. We went when it fit our schedule, and wished we’d gone first thing in the morning.

The desert reptiles are always intriguing…

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Sidewinder Rattlesnake

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Sidewinder Rattlesnake

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Chuckwalla

 

They, of course, had a large collection of cacti at the Desert Museum. I’ve forgotten the proper name for this one, but I love the unique hairy look of them.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Hairy cacti

 

And they had a wonderful Hummingbird Aviary!!

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Rufus Hummingbird

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Costas Hummingbird

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, female

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Rufus Hummingbird

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Black-chinned Hummingbird

We also set out for a suggested hike… Seven Falls… in the Santa Catalina Mountains (Sabino Canyon Recreation Area) but it had been raining pretty hard, and in fact was raining when we arrived. A flash flood prevented us from reaching our trail, although I be the falls were magnificent!

So that was it for our time in Arizona. The following morning we headed west… destination Joshua Tree National Park. (Another new experience for John, and repeat for me. That’s up next!

One last Arizona sunrise before I go…

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Arizona desert sunrise

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