... and Kitt Peak.
Saguaro National Park is located in Tucson, Arizona and is actually divided up into two parks: Saguaro East and Saguaro West. It started as a National Monument and became a National Park in 1994. So technically I visited previously, but it was likely still a National Monument. And I want to visit it again - the sunset was less than spectacular and I really wanted a dramatic sunset behind the Saguaros. We simply didn't have the luck of nature this time.
Saguaros are fascinating cacti in itself - they are native only to the Sonoran desert. The amazing cacti you see are at least 100 years old, 25 feet tall and 16,000 lbs or more. We found out at the visitors center that if you are a Saguaro cactus, you don't get your first flower until you are approximately 35, and are about 6ft tall. You get arms around 60-75 and achieve your full height around 150.
We spent the drive around speculating which one was the oldest - we never did come to a definitive conclusion - but it was neat to go around and say "ooh, this cactus is our age".
There were other cacti besides Saguaros, but obviously that was the focus.
Instead of visiting Saguaro West, we instead opted to drive the 90 minutes to Kitt Peak. LV's a Caltech grad which means he's really into what Kitt Peak does and I have a pretty decent interest in it myself even though a lot of the deep science goes over my head.
I've been to Kitt Peak before, but it hadn't been since the mid-nineties and it was nice to revisit.
We got to peek at (and take photos of) the sun via a small solar telescope as well as explore the grounds partially - including the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope -the largest in the world and buried partway underground and the 2.1m telescope. It was a really neat, worthwhile stop.