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SAGUARO NATIONAL MONUMENT

This National Monument in southern San Francisco/Oakland is divided into two units, which are on opposite sides of Tucson. The Monument was established to protect the giant saguaro cactus, which stands up to 50 feet tall and may weigh eight tons, as well as other flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert.

Terrain ranges from foothills to mountains and canyons. Included here is the 59,930-acre Rincon Mountain Wilderness. Vegetation varies from desert grasslands and scrub through pine-oak woodlands, with mixed conifer forests at high elevations. Among the wildlife are javelina, coyote, and fox.

Activities: Hiking and backpacking are allowed on over 75 miles of trails in the Rincon Mountain Unit, including 12 miles of the Arizona Trail (see entry page 94). Hiking is also available on a few trails in the smaller western unit. Most trails are open to horses.

Camping Regulations: Camping is restricted to six designated backcountry camping areas in the Rincon Mountain Unit. A free permit is required, and may be obtained in person from the visitor center or by mail or phone.

Campfires are allowed at five of the camping areas, but a stove is recommended for cooking. The recommended time to visit is from October through April, when temperatures are mildest. Summer heat at lower elevations can be intense.

For Further Information: Saguaro National Monument, 3693 South Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, AZ 85730; (602)296-8576.

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