I grew up around cacti. Once, while riding my bike, I fell into a barrel cactus that adorned a corner of our house in Tempe, AZ. This resulted in my Dad setting me down at the kitchen table and pulling dozens of the hooked barbs out of my thigh with some needle-nosed Vise-Grips. Years later, I found a small piece of one of those needles still stuck under my skin. By then, it was too deep to pull out with pliers, so off to the doctor we went. You might think, given that story, that I’d have a certain amount of fear and loathing for the spiny succulents, but no: in reality, I admire them. They’re survivors, living in crappy soil, no water, and 120+ degree days. Anything that can survive those conditions deserves my respect.
The grandaddy of all cacti, of course, are the Saguaros, and the best place to see them is in their eponymous National Park just outside Tucson. I went there in March 2019.
The best way to “do” the park is stop at the visitor center and see if any tours are available from one of the volunteers. I took one, and it was worthwhile. At a bare minimum, you’ll come away with a better idea of how to at least name some of the plants you’ll see. I also hiked a few miles, and came away with some pretty good pix, I think. Here they are: