Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


Counting Cacti In Saguaro National Park: The Saguaro Census

The Saguaro Census: counting cacti in Saguaro National Park in Tucson

Just like people, Saguaros within the National Park boundaries are subject to a census every 10 years.

Kurt Repanshek, a modern day John Muir, is a freelance journalist who writes about land use issues, especially in the Rocky Mountain West.  His January 7th post for the National Parks Traveler begins like this:

Much as the bison is to Yellowstone National Park, the saguaro cactus is to Saguaro National Park. Tall, spiny, and handsome, the noble saguaro was the impetus behind the creation of Saguaro National Park, and reigns today as that park's icon. With hopes of ensuring it stays that way, every decade Saguaro officials launch a "Saguaro Census" to track the health of this cacti population. And if you don't mind heat or walking, you're invited to help out.

If you have a hankering to help with the census, you may have to wait another ten years, as the current Saguaro Census will be completed at the end of this month.

Entrance to Saguaro National Park's Visitor Center in the Tucson Mountain District (Saguaro National Park west)Results of the last (2000) Saguaro Census

Saguaro National Park has two districts, one on the east side of Tucson in the Rincon Mountains, and the other on the west side in the Tucson Mountains.  The two districts are thirty miles apart, separated by the valley floor between the two parallel mountain ranges.

The results of the last census showed that the park's Tucson Mountain District (Visitor Center photo right) was home to more than a million of the magnificent plants, an increase of more than 38% over the 1990 census.

In the Rincon Mountain District, the tally showed an increase of 28%.

The Giant Saguaro is not confined to Saguaro National Park.  You'll see magnificent specimens all over Arizona where conditions for their growth is optimal.  The photo below is taken in Tucson Mountain Park, a 20,000 acre preserve that adjoins Saguaro National Park West, and is my back yard.

Saguaro stand in Tucson Mountain Park, Tucson, AZ

Come home to Tucson!


I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson Mortgage Lender.

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photos copyright Mike in Tucson

Comment balloon 16 commentsMike Jones • March 09 2010 07:24AM


HI Mike!  Another interesting Tuscon fact!  Who would have thought the cactus census worker was out and about in Tuscon?!   Great photos as well--I love the full rainbow--I've only seen one in my life time that I could see from beginning to end and that was in the last year or two.  I didn't want to take my eyes off of it--simply breathtaking!

Have a wonderful day...

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, The right Charlotte REALTOR! (www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) almost 11 years ago

Hi Mike...........what an interesting situation, I didn't know about the cactus census.  John (hubby) and I visited Saguaro National Park once and would love to go back.  Great energy in your area.  Great photos.


Posted by Gail MacMillan almost 11 years ago


It's wonderful to meet people from the four corners of the earth who have visited Tucson!  Thanks for your story; come back soon.


Thanks for being the first to comment!  The work is done by volunteers who count and measure each saguaro in a given section of land.  And aren't rainbows just magnificent too?!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

Interesting information.  I love the way they are sprouting up on the hillside and I certainly didn't know anyone would do a census on them.  Thanks for enlightening us.

Posted by Marlene Hoffman - Naples Beach Condos (Downing-Frye Realty, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Mike - this is very interesting, I did not know that there was a census on these saguarro cactus. They really are beautiful and majestic, and love when they bloom as well. I previously had a home in Havasu and we had a couple of them, one was in the front yard, and it looked like it was a person.

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) almost 11 years ago

Mike - It's great to find out that Al Gore's prediction that Global Warming is killing off everything might be exaggerated. Some of us always thought so.

Posted by Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc (Benchmark Realty LLc) almost 11 years ago

I can't look at all the cacti and then make a 'straight' comment. So... I'll just say hello. ;-)

Posted by Susie Blackmon, Ocala, Horses, Western Wear, Horse Farms, Marketing almost 11 years ago

Mike, your photos are really beautiful.  The rainbow is an expecailly nice touch.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Mike - I'm wondering if saguaros are more accurately counted in their census, than people are in their's:-)

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 11 years ago

I am so fascinated by all the cacti I see in the western posts. Of course, they scare the crap out of me, having fallen into a few small ones in Florida when I was a child >.<  But I enjoy the photos, of course =P

Featured in the Things to Do/Places to Visit group =)

Posted by Lisa Hill, Daytona Beach Real Estate (Florida Property Experts) almost 11 years ago

Mike - I wonder if the census takers also measure growth of the saguaros?  It would be interesting to see what kind of pattern that takes year to year.  As always, great photos!

Posted by Kent Simpson, Real Estate Is About People (Realty One Group Mountain Desert) almost 11 years ago

Mike, this is an interesting post.  I am glad to see the saguaro cactus spread out in the parks especially, they are a magnificent plant! 

Posted by Tony & Darcy Cannon, The C Team (Aubrey and Associates Realty) almost 11 years ago

Tony & Darcy,

They sure are!  I'm glad you stopped by to read my post.


Yes, they do measure growth.  Click the link and check out my source.


Thanks for featuring this post!  Tucson is a most interesting destination!

Teri ~ Lady in Red,

It's good to see you!  Thanks for stopping by; I'll reciprocate soon.


Probably!  LOL  (but maybe I shouldn't be laughing...)



Susie, Susie, Susie...

tsk tsk


Al Gore doesn't return my calls anymore.


There certainly is an anthropomorphic quality to the cacti!


You're welcome!  See you on your blog.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

Hi Mike - your photos, once again, are beautiful! I never knew they counted the saguaros. Love the rainbow!


Posted by Debi Boucher, "Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours ( Real Estate Showcase Photography) almost 11 years ago

I don't know how you do it, but your photos always have a magical quality to them!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 11 years ago

Nice backyard! 

I am very happy to see that they increased during that time period.  I hope it will be the same when they finish this years tally...

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) almost 11 years ago

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