Monday, February 29, 2016

Tucson Mountain Park

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 25, 2016

We have enjoyed some incredible weather the past few days...just perfect for hiking the Tucson Mountain Park.  The trails are close by and rarely do we ever see anyone else. John and Pam (, who will be heading north soon, have mastered these trails so what a treat to join them one more time.  The older section of the Tucson Mt. Park has miles of trails that intersect and NO signage unlike the new Robles Pass Section which is well marked. It's a good thing Google maps has all the details. 
John and Pam checking the trail directions...

With that said, Joe and I followed the leader, enjoyed John and Pam's company and were once again  awed by the surrounding beauty. 

Segments of jumping cholla cover the ground...
I love the way the sunlight adds a glow to these cholla (pronounced choy-a).  These are called Teddy Bear cholla because they resemble fuzzy arms and legs of a teddy bear.  But don't let the name fool you.  They might just be the most feared/respected cacti in the desert.  
This cholla is also referred to as a jumping cholla.  The segmented joints of this cholla separate from the plant when brushed up against.     

Another cholla we see often is the Chain-Fruit Cholla.

It can grow to about 15 feet tall making it the largest of the chollas.  New fruit is added to the fruit from previous seasons creating a chain.

And another familiar variety here is the 
Staghorn cholla with a very close cousin called the Buckhorn.  The main difference that I could find is that the Stag tends to have more of a purple tint.  Another significant difference is that the fruit of the Stag is fleshy and spineless and remains attached to the plant throughout the winter.
The fruit from last year is quite showy on the Staghorn Cholla.

 One last cholla worth mentioning is the Christmas Cholla.  The spines on this cholla are different as only one very long spine is produced by each areole instead of a cluster.
Small fruits are bright red and last through the winter, hence the name Christmas.

 According to DesertUSA ( there are more than 20 species of Cholla cactus in the North American Desert. 
There are many benefits from these amazing plants including providing homes and foods for wildlife. 
It looks like the saguaro will be blooming soon...
 ...and we saw a prickly pear growing in a saguaro.

 It was another great day in the desert with friends...

...and we were not the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather.  We saw a lizard... 
 ...and a Bull snake enjoying the warm sunshine too!
 Until next time...
happy days and happy trails!


  1. Thanks for the education on the cholla, I need the education! Of course Teddy Bear is the best known but in the canyons along the coast we do have very little of it and lots of what I now think are Staghorn or one of the other varieties.

  2. The Arizona desert is beautiful and spring is just around the corner. It's almost time for the blooms to even make it prettier.

  3. It was a fun day even if we did have to create the trail for awhile:) Loved that we got to see a snake and a lizard!!! Looking forward to Maob and more hiking:)

  4. Love that park, the variety of cactus make it so beautiful. I have a hard time with cane, buckthorn and stag all looking nearly identical - even their blooms are similar. So great to see the critters although it seems early for them to be out. That prickly pear in the saquaro is fun, more evidence of the gardener-birds :-)

  5. Very informative. I appreciate the fact that you added the proper pronunciation & a website for desert newbies like me. Thank you Gay.

  6. Oh I learned something new today, about the stag horn and buckhorn cholla, thanks Gay.
    Im looking forward to your pics of the saguaro flowers.