Also, Tucson Mountain (Pima County) Park, adjacent to the southern border of the West District of SAGU, deserves a big honorable mention here. I loved driving the roads of the county park -- Kinney, McCain Loop, and Gates Pass -- fun rides with outstanding vistas. Since SAGU only has backpacking camps, I found Gilbert Ray Campground within Tucson Mountain Park as well. Although it's geared more toward the RVer with hookups, it was a pleasant stay and my tent site was private enough.
|Visitors are greeted with a framed view of a saguaro forest upon |
walking up to the Red Hills Visitor Center of SAGU's
West-Tucson Mountain District. 2/5/14
|The panorama looking beyond the saguaro forest to the mountains at the|
Red Hills Visitor Center SAGU West. 2/5/14
|Notice the holes in one of the cactus.|
These are mostly made by birds (like cactus wren) for their nests,
and often used by other birds (like elf owls) for shelter.
Bajada Loop Drive, 2/4/14
|Saguaro cacti come in all shapes and sizes. This one lost its top! |
Bajada Loop Drive, 2/4/14
|While on the Bajada Loop, I took a side trip on the Golden Gate Road to the|
Ex-Kim-In-Zin picnic area. Here I found some handiwork of the CCC
(Civilian Conservation Corps). See the picnic table shelter on the ridge. 2/4/14
On Wednesday afternoon I headed toward Saguaro East-Rincon Mountain District, on the opposite side of Tucson. Since it was getting late, I passed the entrance to find a place to camp at another Pima Country facility, Colossal Cave Mountain Park. This park was more rustic and the roads are in serious need of repair. After a bit of exploration (at the cave entrance, a cattle/horse ranch, and the picnic/camping areas) I found a private campsite and enjoyed taking a few pictures both at sunset and sunrise.
|Looking up at a saguaro forest from my campsite. The sky is dark with clouds and I|
heard some thunder that night. Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/5/14
|Prickly pear, a dead tree and a saguaro forest. Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/5/14|
|A campsite, all to myself. Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/5/14|
|Close up of a dead saguaro trunk laying on the ground. Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/5/14|
|Another close up of the same dead saguaro trunk laying on the ground. |
But, this time, showing a place where its "ribs" are showing.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/5/14
|Looking up at a 20+ foot saguaro cactus. Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/5/14.|
|This morning shot seems to capture the feel of the place best for me.|
It felt kind of sad there ... don't know why exactly. But, I was glad to leave.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 2/6/14.
|See the budding arms? |
Arms or branches begin to appear when a saguaro cactus is between
50-75 years old. Average life span for saguaros is between
150-175 years old. (SAGU flyer) Cactus Forest Drive, 2/6/14
|The top formation on this saguaro is called a cristate. It's rare and about 25|
are within SAGU. (SAGU flyer) Cactus Forest Drive, 2/6/14
As you may be able to tell from these last few pictures, it was jacket-wearing weather. I was, however, craving some sunshine. So, I checked out the weather for other places in AZ and headed toward the warmth. More on that little venture on my next blog.