Saguaro blooms

A carpenter bee heads for a side bloom on a saguaro in the Red Hills outside Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Tucson, Ariz., May 20, 2021.

Saguaro National Park will celebrateย Arizona's state tree and state flower with two full days of activities this Friday and Saturday.

The Saguaro and Palo Verde Blossom Festival in the park's Rincon Mountain District, on the east side of Tucson, will feature a wide range of events from 7 a.m. until well after dark on both days.

Highlights include a Saguaro Park Star Party from 8-9:30 p.m. Friday, which will start at the visitor center, 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, and include volunteers and telescopes from theย Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. That will be followed from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. by a ranger led outing, also starting at the visitor center, to observe saguaro buds as they open and bloom.ย 

Saguaro spokeswoman Perri Spreiser called it the park's "last big event before the heat of the summer descends upon us."

The festivities will begin at 7 a.m. on both days with a 90-minute Saguaro Blossom Wake-Up Walk from the Broadway Trailhead. Participants in the roughly 1.5-mile walk along a paved, accessible trail will receive hands-on instruction in measuring and photographing the blooming patterns on saguaros.

A saguaro bloom located at Saguaro National Park East near the Cactus Forest Loop Drive in 2023.

From 10-11 a.m. on both days, festivalgoers can drop by the visitor center to make their own saguaro blossom and take part in other flower-themed crafts and activities in a shaded area outdoors.

Park rangers will present one-hour Focus on the Saguaro talks in the visitor center at 1 p.m. both days. Friday's topic will be the traditional Tohono Oโ€™odham saguaro fruit harvest, and Saturday's talk will focus on current research on the flowering patterns of the giant saguaro.

And from 3-4:30 p.m. on both days, the park will host Follow the Yellow-Green Road, a driving tour along the Cactus Forest Loop with short stops to learn about saguaro and palo verde flowers and the critters that pollinate them.

The festival will end Saturday night with a Twilight Owl Walk from 8-10 p.m. Participants will meet at the visitor center, then drive to an unpaved, rocky trail with about 100 stairs for a 1-mile trek through prime owl habitat among the giant cactuses.

The distinctive yellow flowers of a palo verde, the Arizona state tree, will be celebrated at Saguaro National Park East on Friday and Saturday during the Saguaro and Palo Verde Blossom Festival.

All the events are free of charge, though visitors will have to pay the standard park entrance fee and bring their own water and flashlights for nighttime activities.

Space is limited and reservations are required for two of the events, the Follow the Yellow-Green Road driving tour andย the Saguaro Blossoms by Night educational outing. You can call 520-733-5153 to sign up.

"We have a little bit for everyone," Spreiser said.

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Contact reporter Henry Brean at On Twitter: @RefriedBrean