An idyllic scene in a lush desert wash in Catalina State Park
just north of Tucson. The desert is always greenest and most enjoyable
in the mid-spring months. The weather is ideal, and there are often wonderful displays of
The distinguishing trait of the Arizona desert is the presence of
large cacti. They occur in the Sonoran desert which occupies roughly
the southwest quarter of the state particularly Tucson and southward.
This is due to higher precipitation than in the other American deserts.
The most well known and impressive cactus is the giant saguaro pictured
left and right. There are numerous places in the Tucson area where one
can observe amazing saguaro "forests". Here you will find dense stands
of giant multi-armed saguaros, the arms often taking many fanciful shapes.
The conservation of these cacti has become an important issue as the
urbanization of southern Arizona continues at a rapid pace.
The organ pipe is another large and fascinating cactus of the
Sonoran desert. It is much rarer than the saguaro, occurring primarily
in the far south near the Mexican border at Organ Pipe Cactus National
Monument. The monument has stands of many kinds of cacti and is
extremely popular in the springtime due to frequent outstanding
The main difference between the saguaro
and organ pipe is that saguaros grow arms high off a main stem while
organ pipes grow their arms from the base.
A nice combination of Arizona cacti and spring wildflowers. There is
a saguaro, numerous small chollas, a barrel cactus, and an ocotillo
with its beautiful red flowers. The ocotillo is not a true cactus and
grows small leaves after rainy periods.
Nothing is quite as pleasing as running water in the desert. This
small (and seasonal) waterfall is in Seven Falls Canyon on the outskirts
Right, a change of pace. This colorful grave marker is in the infamous
"Boot Hill" cemetary outside of old Tombstone. In case you can't
read it, it says, "Here lies George Johnson, hanged by mistake, 1882,
he was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up, and now he's gone."
Truth or "put-on"? You decide.
Get the Best of the West for your Vacation!
Make the most of your valuable time! Purchase the American West Travel Itinerary - Trip Planner by the American West Travelogue Editor, based on over 30 years of first-hand experiences. Customized and prepackaged plans available.