Saguaro National Park: the biggest disappointment is its pronunciation

In my family, we really like the cactus in its many forms. I have basically a whole nursery of succulents, and I enjoy checking out their larger cousins. It’s a plus that cacti grow in desert climates, a climate I love.

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In my travels last year, I saw many different kinds of cacti, but not the one I wanted to see most: the Saguaro. The only place that it grows is in the southern most part of Arizona – nowhere near where I’d be.

When planning this year’s trip, Saguaros had to be on the itinerary. While many things were crossed off because we ran out of time, we made time to go to Saguaro National Park.

We had just come off of our two days in an Airbnb and visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the way south. The night before, we camped in a free area on a rando National Forest mountain road near Tucson, AZ.

While researching whether we should go to the East or West side of the park, we discovered that Saguaro is not pronounced as it appears. The G is silent and it sounds like “suh-wah-ro.” I was deeply disappointed with this realization.

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The next morning, we packed the car and left for the park. Just on the ride there, we saw plenty of saguaros. It was great to see that they’re growing outside of their preserved lands.

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We arrived at the visitor’s center to learn about their habitat and pick up a magnet. This was our hottest climate yet on the trip, so we made sure to drink a lot of water and take it with us everywhere.

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We watched the park movie and thoroughly enjoyed when they pulled back the curtains to show the forest of cacti behind the window.

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The big tree protects the growing Saguaro!

Our exploration of the park consisted of doing the loop road and getting out to do one, short hike.

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The rough road led to a nice pullout with a path through the thickly-forested cacti. We walked around, finding our favorites and hoping to see some small wildlife. We walked for probably only a third of a mile, but it seemed long on the way back in the hot sun. We stopped often for water sips and made it safely back to the car.

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This was our main activity in the small park, but it made a lasting impression. Our love for succulents has grown, and we can proudly say that we saw the huge, iconic Saguaros.

Saguaro was my 16th National Park.

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