Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tucson Part 2: Saguaro National Park

The desert is full of life.  I noticed it more on this trip than ever before. Perhaps because spring was just around the corner and the desert was just beginning to bloom. Maybe it was the sound of all the birds singing as if they were enjoying the weather as much as we were. Or maybe it was the forest of cacti filling the desert with green.  Whatever it was, I was happy to be there. We had a new national park to explore!

Saguaro National Park is located on either side of Tucson. It is separated into the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon District. We didn't have time to do both so I did some research and decided the Tucson Mountain District would be best suited for us.  There seemed to be more trails that were short and accessible which is usually a good sign that they are toddler friendly.

We began our trip at the Red Hills Visitor Center where we could get our National Park Passports stamped, check out the exhibits, and get some good advice on which trails to take from the always helpful National Park Rangers.  The ranger was very helpful and suggested we start our journey at the Cactus Garden Trail and Javelina Wash behind the visitor center. It gave us an opportunity to get learn about the different types of cacti and plants in the Sonoran Desert while stretching our legs and spotting some wildlife.



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From the visitor center we took the scenic Bajada Loop Drive which was quite gorgeous.  I think the kids were more interested in Dumbo playing in the back seat than the view but I really enjoyed the drive. The road was dirt but it was easy enough for a 2 wheel drive vehicle to take.

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Our next destination was the Signal Hill Petroglyphs Trail. We decided to have lunch before heading out on our hike and found a great  area with a little stone house protecting a picnic bench. It was the perfect spot for lunch because it kept us out of the sun and the kids loved playing in and around their little house.

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The trail to the petroglyphs is short but it does involve quite a few stairs up the side of the hill. The kids did great and we made it up the hill relatively quick.  At the top we were able to get up close and personal with pictures carved into rock over 800 years ago. I tried to explain to Mari that their were pictures on the rocks and that one of the pictures looked like a horse. She thought I was pretending that the rock was a horse and proceeded to point out which rocks were kitties, which were elephants, and which were monkeys.  The concept may have been lost on her but at least she was having fun. Ben was more interested in the rocks that he could throw. That's my boy!

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On the way back down the hill we met a very nice family who got a kick out of the kids and let them try out their walking sticks.

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By the time we got down the hill the weather was getting a little too warm and the kids were getting tired so we continued our drive and I stopped for photo ops as the mood struck me. I found this area to be exceptionally beautiful.

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I was thrilled to find an area of the desert had started to bloom. There is something truly special about experiencing the short time in which the desert is filled with flowers. It is something I hope to see again soon.



That was the end of our day at Saguaro National Park but certainly not the end of our Tucson adventure. Tune in next time to hear all about the fantastic time we had at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Its a fantastic zoo that showcases life in the desert beautifully. I hope I have inspired some of you to start planning your own adventures in the desert.


Helene said...

Wow, those pics are gorgeous! I would've never pictured the desert looking that lovely!! I'm glad you all had fun!! Sure beats the nature walk we took today...we fed some ducks and stared at an earthworm for a 5 whole minutes.

debi9kids said...

These are FANTASTIC pictures and what a great day! WOW! I never would think there would be so much beauty in the dessert.
I bet that Ben loved that walking stick. LOL

ps I see you are enjoying Picnik. Isn't it fantastic???

Alisha said...

Those pictures are beautiful Shar! I just love those kids of yours!

Tiffany said...

Beautiful pictures! I'd love to visit out west someday.