It is a forest of kings, a desert filled with giants. This is the home of a regional icon that has appeared as a symbol for both a state and as a star of westerns on the silver screen. It shares a name with a prominent American industrialist and towers over its terrain just as mighty as any robber baron or titan of industry. A giver of life and beauty, it unveils its mysteries in the night. Its mythology, like its name, has been passed down throughout the generations making it a true legend of the Southwest. This symbol is not man nor beast but can be considered the king of the Southwest regardless. This is the mighty saguaro cactus, and there is no better place to view this stalwart of the Sonoran Desert than in Arizona's Saguaro National Park.
Named for the Carnegiea gigantea or the saguaro, this national park is famous for being home to the largest cactus in the world. The saguaro is both a living plant, a habitat and historically a source of fruit and water in the dry desert. While the iconic cactus is the park’s namesake and most famous resident, it is far from the only thing to see here. Desert tortoises, gila monsters and javelinas roam the parklands. Native tribes, Spanish explorers, miners, ranchers, homesteaders, CCC workers, and scientists have all called this area home. Saguaro has long beckoned travelers to visit the king of the cacti in his own domain.
While the sunken treasures of shipwrecks around the island may seem the most alluring part of these islands, the Dry Tortugas are actually home to a greater wealth of sea life, tropical birds, coral reefs and history. Home to the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, the park is accessible only by seaplane or boat. Ferries bring visitors to the islands daily, though traversing the waters is much safer than in the heyday of pirates, privateers, naval officers and fishermen. Bordered by two marine sanctuaries and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with the Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park showcases the uncompromised natural beauty of the Florida Keys.
Officially known as the National Park of American Samoa, this national park has the distinction of being the only U.S. National Park south of the equator and only the second national park located in a U.S. Territory rather than a U.S. state. Located in the South Pacific, American Samoa is actually closer to Australia or New Zealand than it is to the U.S. Only slightly larger than Washington, D.C., American Samoa is only a portion of the full Samoan Islands with the rest belonging to the independent Samoa and the national park works to preserve the ancient heritage and natural beauty of these islands.
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