Saguaro Blowdown

On the afternoon of August 22, 2023, the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park experienced a blowdown event that knocked over or damaged a large amount saguaros and other vegetation.

blowdown-damaged saguaro lays on the ground in multiple pieces

NPS Photo

What is a blowdown?

Blowdown refers to windthrow and windsnap. Windthrow is a naturally occurring event, and it is common in areas habitating plants with large canopies, or sails, such a multiple-armed saguaro. Windthrow is when the entire plant, including its root structure, is uprooted by the wind. Windsnap is when the plant experiences breakage or is snapped along its trunk.

With the blowdown experienced in the west district of Saguaro National Park, current estimates suggest around 1,200 saguaros were knocked over, or they lost arms or had their tops sheared off.

However, saguaros were not the only plants affected in this event. Other plants such as the palo verde, ironwood, ocotillo and prickly pear were also damaged within the park.

park ranger leans over to inspect the roots of a windblown saguaro
This windthrown saguaro was uprooted from the desert soil.

NPS Photo

What does this mean for our saguaros?

The park is continuing to evaluate and execute research on this event in order for park biologists to learn more about this phenomenon and its effects on our ecosystem.

As of 9/14/2023, over 1,200 saguaros have been counted that have either blown down, or lost arms or their tops, during the storm. The area affected has now been covered thoroughly enough to get a strong idea of the extent of damage caused by this event. Park biologists are working to determine what percentage of those kinds of damage these saguaros saw, but the majority appear to have been completely uprooted, or windthrown.

To see the saguaros, you can drive the scenic loop in the Tucson Mountain District along Hohokam road. Please be courteous to our desert and remember no off-trail travel is allowed. Check out our maps of the park to be better informed on where you can drive and hike to see the effects of this event.

While a good number of plants have been affected by this blowdown, there are many hundreds of saguaros still standing that remain healthy!

Saguaro National Park will be updating this page as we continue to conduct research regarding the blowdown.

All other questions can be directed to Perri Spreiser at or (520) 262-4051

Last updated: September 14, 2023

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3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730


520 733-5153

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