Iconic 200-Year-Old Saguaro Cactus Collapses in Arizona State Park Following Rainstorm

by Amy Myers

Locals in Arizona are mourning the loss of a magnificent, 200-year-old saguaro cactus that finally succumbed to its advanced age on August 29.

For two centuries, the spiny saguaro stood tall along the Romero Ruins trail in the ever-popular Catalina State Park. Famous for its cacti and other desert flora, the park has long celebrated the saguaro’s presence.

Now that the giant has met its demise, Arizona State Parks wanted to honor the plant’s life cycle and crucial contribution to the ecosystem. On Facebook, the park system alerted the community of the loss of the saguaro cactus, noting that the season’s rainfall was the reason for the cactus’ fall.

“Powerful seasonal rains can quickly make an impact on the desert landscape,” Arizona State Parks shared. “The loss of this huge, iconic ~200 year old Saguaro on the Romero Ruins trail overlooking the Sutherland wash at Catalina State Park in Tucson is one change regular park visitors can’t miss. Thankfully this giant has fallen off the trail and will stay where it landed, providing habitat and food for many creatures as it decomposes.”

Of course, the news is a bit sad because such a staple part of the landscape has died. However, the Arizona Game and Fish Department pointed out that the saguaro cactus is still giving back to the surrounding species.

“Sad, but nice to think it’ll still be a beautiful home for many critters for years to come!” the department said in the comments of the post.

Arizona State Parks agreed, “The silver lining to the fall of this icon!”

Also in the comments, fellow Catalina State Park visitors shared their own encounters with the beloved giant.

Meteorologist Explains Impact of Rainfall on Arizona State Park and Saguaro Cactus

The day before Arizona State Parks announced the loss of the bicentennial saguaro cactus, the area experienced some thunderstorms.

“We don’t know the day [the cactus] fell over, but it was sometime during the heavy rains Tucson received during August,” Arizona State Parks and Trails Communications Coordinator Elisabeth Haugan said.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert stated that Tucson, located less than 15 miles from Catalina State Park, saw heavy rainfall.

“While a majority of these storms were rather scattered in nature, it does look like a few made it into the vicinity of Catalina State Park,” Gilbert said. “Rainfall amounts across the region were measured between 0.15 and 0.50 of an inch. Totals could have been higher in the park itself, but even a seemingly small amount of rainfall can have major impacts in the desert.”

According to AccuWeather, Tucson usually sees about two inches of rain every August. This year, the area saw 2.82 inches, 142% of its average monthly rainfall.