Join the SaddleBrooke Hiking Club at 4 p.m. in the HOA-1 Activity Center for a fascinating presentation on crested saguaros by resident Harry Ford on Wednesday, April 24. Best described as an adventurer and photographer, Ford discovered his first crested saguaro in 2007 while bushwhacking in the Santa Catalina Mountains. He then became a member of the Crested Saguaro Society and started searching in earnest. He, the Society and crested saguaros were recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article.

In 2005, there were only 250 known crested saguaros, but after 100,000 hours of CSS exploring, around 3,300 have been documented out of an estimated 50 million saguaros—about one in 15,000. The locations of these beautiful giants are not usually disclosed, other than in well-known areas, to protect them from vandalism and theft. There are approximately fifty from Pusch Peak Wilderness to Oracle, most being far from roads or trails. There is a famous crested saguaro on the Canyon Loop Trail in Catalina State Park, with a new baby crest close by.

Since 2019, Harry and the CSS have been working with the Arizona State University Cancer Evolution Center to document the DNA of a 200-year-old specimen, in the hope of learning more about the genetic suppression of cancer in saguaros and to discover why crests occur. In addition to his work with crested saguaros, Ford is also an avid hiker and has covered over 40,000 miles in the Sonoran Desert, trimming many of the trails we use today. A passionate advocate for the Sonoran Desert, he is committed to sharing his love of this amazing place with others.

You do not need to be a SaddleBrooke Hiking Club Member to attend the presentation. Please note that the April hiking club program will occur on the fourth Wednesday instead of the usual schedule.


Subscribe to stay connected to Tucson. A subscription helps you access more of the local stories that keep you connected to the community.