It [the boojum tree] dominates the landscape and imposes upon it an air of dreamlike unreality. —Joseph Wood Krutch, The Forgotten Peninsula
The Valley of los Cirios covers the southern third of the entire state of Baja California, adjacent to the state line with Baja California Sur and the entirety of the El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve. The total area of the park exceeds 2.5 million hectares (Riemann 142). The territory stretches the width of the peninsula and contains miles of uninhabited coastline. Together, Valle de los Cirios and El Vizcaíno are larger than the area of the Mexican state Quintana Roo. First protected in 1980, the park was reclassified as a natural protected area at the national level in 2000 (CONANP – 6).
The region supports a variety of wildlife such as big horn sheep, cayotes, birds of prey, and various reptiles. However, visitors to the area will first notice two species of plant: the cirios tree or boojum tree (Idria columnaris) and giant cardón cactus (Pachycereus pringlei). Often referred to as something out of a Dr. Seuss book, the boojum tree is found only in Baja California and Sonora, Mexico. The cardon cactus is the largest cactus on the peninsula and can reach heights of fifteen meters. Both plant species grow very slowly and live upwards of one hundred years with some individual plants far exceeding the one hundred and two hundred year marks.