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Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park was well worth a visit, even if it was just a one afternoon drive by on the way to Tucson.

The cactus is widespread and readily accessible to view. Organ Pipe Cactus State Park is on the other side of Tucson and unfortunately we ran out of time so never made it there.

However, we did take a very pleasant drive out of Tucson, along the Mount Lemon Highway, up into the mountains. I highly recommend this as a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon.

The cactus is plentiful along this road, thought parking places are relatively few and far between. The views into the valley are great, though the desert haze may limit the views of Tucson from up there.

We had a very, very unpleasant experience with a very unfriendly rattlesnake in this area, so tread cautiously if you decide to go and take a close up view of the cactus.

I am advised that it is sensible to make noise and drag your feet a bit so as to warn the snakes of your approach. That way they will not be panicked into defending themselves and may move away if they feel it appropriate.

Surprising a very large rattlesnake is something to talk about afterwards, but the experts inform me that a serious bite up there, away from immediate help, if not fatal, could easily leave you permanently, extensively paralysed. You have been warned!

Incidentally I met quite a few local residents, some of whom were in their seventies. None of them had ever even seen a rattlesnake, so perhaps it was just a very rare encounter, nothing much to worry about.

sguaro state park
Saguaro cactus
saguaro cactus state park
saguaro rattlesnake
saguaro raptor
All images Copyright Avery Little