Saguaro National Park east of Tucson is revered for its cactus forests, geologic splendor and far-horizon views.
All of those attractions are at their best — and easy to reach — at an often overlooked Saguaro Park site known as the Javelina Rocks.
Watch for a parking pullout for the site along the park’s eight-mile Cactus Forest Drive. It’s between the six and seven mile points on the paved one-way drive.
Low but shapely rock formations dominate the area. Several unnamed trails ascend and wind around the rocks while passing abundant desert vegetation, including saguaros, cholla cacti and wildflowers.
From high points along the short trails, views of the distant snow-capped Catalina Mountains stand out on the northern horizon.
For many visitors, a question occurs: Why is the area called the Javelina Rocks?
An information panel at the parking area explains: “The layer-cake-looking rock here is called Javelina Rock, named after its favorite inhabitant, the javelina. Other small animals also find these rocks ideal for shelter and shade.
“The rocks in this area are composed of Catalina gneiss — ancient granite changed by forces deep in the earth along a detachment fault,” the panel continues. “Now, raised to the surface, the rocks reveal bands of minerals, caused by the stretching and movement of the earth’s crust.”
Take time for a close-up look at some of the rocks and you’ll find a variety of shapes, textures and colors in the stone.
You might or might not see a javelina at the site, but the rocks will be there to admire, touch and photograph for some centuries to come.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz