SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK WEST

This page is dedicated to my friend Melinda D'Ouville, who wanted to see this place, but could not.

The 27th and 28th of February, 2000, I had the opportunity to spend a little time in Tucson, Arizona.  On the first of these two days, I had a whole afternoon and ran to see the western portion of Saguaro National Park, just west of Tucson, Arizona.

Just west of Tucson is a park with a very pretty mountain and a good view back to the city.  The National Park is further west:

Once in the park itself, I asked for a medium challenge for a 3 to 4 hour hike and was given a map.  I chose to climb to the central ridge's top from the northwest, thus letting me come down the steeper western side into the sunset.

On the way up, a rare sight for the drought-stricken desert, cactus flowers!

Further up the trail, the ridge that was my destination came into view.

This was one of the larger Saguaros along the trail.

Could not resist this pair of lovers with spikes!

Once on the ridge, there was occasional shade, and plenty of beautiful panoramas, only a few of which are reproduced here such as this view to the northwest.

The view to the north, after having moved west on the ridge crest a while, was also beautiful, as the next two shots suggest.

As we move west on the ridge, in the next two shots, the scenery remains beautiful, but changes:

It wasn't long, once moving west from peak to peak on the crest, that there came reminders of the pending sunset, putting some urgency into the walking pace.  The next two pictures are of the same peak, from the east and then, with sunlight, from the west.

The scenes off the crest continued to be in the daylight, to my surprise, given how dark the westerly ascents were:

The interplay between the setting sun and peaks and rocks and the desert vegatation was exhilerating!  This was the most beautiful part of the trek, but it didn't last long.  It is the topic of the next few shots:

What was amazing was the terrain's local control of the sunset.  Going up the trail pictured above led me to believe I might not see direct sunlight again, but coming over the crest showed this scene, with a view of the road the car was parked on (but a couple of miles to the right of the picture):

As I began the descent, I was struck by this burning bush.  I did not wait to receive a list of do's and don't's engraved on stone tablets, but was inspired by the grandeur of this scene nevertheless.

Of course there was a very nice sunset awaiting me around the last bend:

Visibility on this steep trail was good until I finally arrived near the bottom, where it was very dark.  But finding the road was not hard, and after that it was just trudging uphill with stars and cacti as companions.  It was a good day, a good hike, and I was ready for that super sized drink at the first convenience store I met!

Go to Saguaro National Park East & Collosal Cave

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