Saguaro National Park is part of the National Park System. This particular national park is located in the southwestern US in the state of Arizona. The city of Tucson is located nearby, approximately 16 km (10 mi) from the park. Saguaro National Park is a part of the Sonora Desert and is named for the ubiquitous saguaro cacti native to the Sonora Desert.
The area that makes up this national park was once inhabited by people. The Hohokam, Apache, and Tohono O'odham peoples lived in this area. Spanish explorers, miners, homesteaders, and ranchers once called this area home as well. Mining once took place in the areas that now make up this national park. In 1933, this area would was made into a protected area for the saguaro cactus. The lands that would make up Saguaro National Park have since expanded. The current land areas that now make up this national park were established in 1994.
Saguaro National Park is a major recreation area. This park is popular among hikers. Cycling is also an activity popular within the park although only allowed on designated paved areas. Around 165 miles of trail are found within Saguaro National Park. In the Tucson Mountain District, there are petroglyphs in found on stones. These petroglyphs, form of rock art, were made by the Hohokam. These historical artifacts can be viewed easily, especially from the Signal Hill Trail. The petroglyphs are works of art dating back over 800 years ago. These activities are among the things that attract tourists.
What makes Saguaro National Park unique is that it was founded mainly to protect the Saguaro cactus, which is is found in the Sonora Desert, and nowhere else in the world. The large saguaro cactus is synonymous with the southwestern USA.
Being located in the Sonora Desert, the habitat of Saguaro National Park is desert. This park is mountainous, with Rincon Mountains and Tucson Mountains located within the park. Saguaro National Park also includes springs and creeks. Saguaro National Park is home to grassland, desert scrub, and some forested areas. The diverse habitats support a vast variety of plants and animals. Plant communities are found within the park. A plant community is a community of plants of the same species found within a geographic area. There are several plant communities of desert scrub. These plant communities are found in the lower elevations of the park. Plant communities of desert grasses can be found in areas higher up in elevation. And as this park's name indicates, the Saguaro cactus is ubiquitous in this park. A few species of oak and pine trees are found within the park as well, among them are Gambel's oak and Ponderosa pine. Among the fauna located in the park, this includes javelinas (a species of wild pig), jackrabbits, owls, cactus wrens, diamondback rattlesnakes, spiny lizards, Gila monsters, and even several species of frogs.
Saguaro National Park was intended to protect the Saguaro cactus, as well as the biodiversity of the Sonora Desert. The introduction of invasive species is a major concern. Invasive species will cause problems and they will contribute to exhausting the resources used by plants native to the region. In some cases, such as buffelgrass, they can cause other environmental problems that can kill. Certain non-native grasses have been known to cause wildfires, which have killed a certain amount of native plants, include some saguaro cacti.
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