We sometimes have visitors or our park that ask if we have a lake or river and it always amuses us because we are located in the middle of a, you know, desert.
The forces of politics and commerce were too strong to resist, however, so Arizona has added water features so that the necessary dollars can be spent on boating and sport fishing. We already visited Canyon Lake a few weeks ago so decided to visit the closer Saguaro Lake this time.
On our way to the lake we also followed up on a tip from a fellow camp-host and found a rare Crested Saguaro, which is the term for a Saguaro Cactus that grows a fan-shaped portion in addition to the traditional arms. We found online estimates of this happening in 1/150,000 Saguaro Catci. And - something I always love - scientists have been unable to explain why it happens.
The specimen we found is approximately three miles past the entrance to Usery Mountain Regional Park on Usery Pass Road, by Mile Marker 25 before the road intersects with the North Bush Highway. We photographed the cactus and also the cool hawk resting on another close by Saguaro.
Heading further down the road it was unclear if the adding of these water features has worked for the state because we passed quite a few National Forest Campgrounds and day-use areas that are closed for the season. I can’t seem to dig up a reason for the closures online - but they could either be financial or fire-risk-related as this area is still considered to be in drought (which seems redundant when talking about deserts, but anyway..).
The interesting (read: frustrating) thing to note about Saguaro Lake is that technically our $80 National Parks Pass that is supposed to
Allows pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle to enter Federally operated recreation sites across the country.
doesn’t work here, without a $15 “upgrade” (because somehow Tonto is different from the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Arches, Canyonlands or any of the other National Parks we’ve visited using the National Parks Pass). We were supposed to have purchased a Tonto pass back in town (12 miles back from the lake because they also can’t evidently figure out a way to sell them on-site) but decided to just drive in anyway.
In spite of my feelings around the National Parks Pass issue Saguaro Lake is a pretty spot and we lingered there for a few minutes before heading back home.