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Saguaro Wilderness

General Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Images
A stand of tall cactus, against a deep blue sky.
Library image #1175: Saguaro National Monument

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Saguaro Wilderness (map) in 1976 and it now has a total of 70,905 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Arizona and is managed by the National Park Service. The Saguaro Wilderness is bordered by the Rincon Mountain Wilderness to the east.

Description

Sprouting in the shade of another desert plant, the saguaro cactus grows only a few inches in its first five years of life and a few feet in its first 30 years. At age 75 the cactus stands 15 to 20 feet tall and begins developing its first branches as it absorbs water through an extensive root system. A mature cactus can live up to 170 years, often measuring in at over 30 feet tall, weighing 6 to 10 tons, and holding one ton of water. The saguaro is truly king of the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaro National Monument was established in 1933 and given national parkland status in 1994. The area contains 84,000 saguaro-preserving acres. Divided into two units by Tucson, the western Tucson Mountain Unit includes just over 21,000 relatively flat acres and the eastern Rincon Mountain Unit almost 63,000 acres, rising steeply in places from 2,800 feet to 8,666 feet on Mica Mountain. Most of the park has been designated Wilderness.

Traversed by well-maintained dirt roads, the Tucson Mountain Unit receives mostly day-use visitors. Although it offers a visitors center, the Rincon Mountain Unit is primarily roadless, attracting day-use hikers and backpackers. Saguaro's Wilderness trail system contains approximately 127 miles of maintained trails, but overnight camping is limited to six sites in the Rincon Mountains. Water is usually available.

Planning to Visit the Saguaro Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Saguaro Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.



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