Sunset Over the Sonoran Desert

We have absolutely loved our time in the Sonoran Desert.  I think we all wish we could stay just a little longer but this was our last hike before heading north for more adventures.  We spent this hike in the west side of the Saguaro National Park in the Tuscon Mountains.  We headed to the Valley View Overlook Trail in hopes of catching a nice view of the desert at sunset.

Look at this crazy saguaro cactus!  Instead of the majestic upright arms, it has arms that are drooping and curled.  

This is caused by a frost freezing the water in the cactus which damages the tissues and makes them soft so they droop.  I really love these drooping arms and each one looks so different.  This one above looks like a person with a hand on one hip who is pointing with the other arm.  I talked to the kids about a fun idea of taking pictures of all of the droopy cacti and making a book with short stories about what each one looks like.  We will do that next time we come here!

As the sun starting going down over the desert, the shadows of the saguaro lengthened.  

Here is an interesting creature I found.  I believe it is called a sand angel.

The boys were busy turning over rocks.  Nicholas shouted with excitement so we all went to check out what he had found.

He caught a Western Banded Gecko!  He has some beautiful colors and markings on him.  

I loved watching his joy and excitement in finding the little guy.  Nicholas identified him right away as a Western Banded Gecko because he had memorized the entire booklet I got him on Reptiles and Amphibians of the Sonoran Desert.  He amazes me!

Like most geckos, he was a sweet and friendly guy.

Much nicer than the next guy Nicholas found.  We saw several of these in the desert. 

Nicholas wanted to stay in this wash a while because he said that is where we will find some interesting creatures.  A wash is a lower part of the desert where flood waters run after heavy rains.  They form nice hiking paths and lots of rocks to turn over.

I just kept noticing the sun getting lower in the sky and thinking about the kinds of creatures that might come out once it got dark.  But it was all so beautiful that I didn't want to leave.

Look at the evening sun glowing on the mountains and the tops of the saguaros.

I just love these saguaros silhouetted against the blue and gold sky.

We knew we had to get going if we wanted to make it to the overlook for sunset so we headed out into the sun.

This was a sunset view looking to the south along the trail.  The soft muted colors are so pretty.

Ocotillo cactus and the Tuscon Mountains at sunset.

We made it the Valley View point.  What a perfect place to see all of God's glory at sunset.

This was my favorite hike of all.  The fun of hunting critters with my family and the amazing sunset just made it a wonderful memory of our time in the Sonoran Desert.

I love that Nicholas picked such an unusual place to want to visit and I'm so proud of Stuart for being adventurous enough to say, "Let's Go!"  This has been an amazing trip of far.  I know we will never forget it.

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