The Main Stream

Nov 30, 2012 8:10 AM by Jeff Beamish

Hittin' the Trails 4 You: December guided hikes at Saguaro National Park

TUCSON - Saguaro National Park is offering special programs this winter that explore the park's wonderful natural and cultural history.

Come along on a naturalist-led walk in the park, or join a local expert for a presentation in one of our visitor centers. Programs are offered at both the east and west districts. Interpretive programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Program schedules are subject to change; call the visitor centers for updates or reservations.

Special Programs at Tucson Mountain District (Saguaro West, 2700 N. Kinney Road):

Dec. 1, 8, 15 9:45 a.m. Life in an Arroyo Hike 1 1/2 hours, ½ mile
Whether called an arroyo or a wash, this path for water runoff also provides a roadway, shelter, air conditioning, habitat, and sustenance for plants, critters, and humans. No sandals, please!

Dec. 1, 8, 14, 15, 21, 28, 29 11:45 a.m. Snakes: The Slither Factor Talk: 40 minutes
All that slithers is not venomous; and snakes of all kinds play important roles in desert ecology, including controlling the rodent population. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 30 1:15 p.m. Fast Food in the Desert Talk: 45 minutes
Arizona Desert indigenous people of centuries past looked to the natural world for sustenance, from the mammoths of olden days to the Three Sisters of corn, beans, and squash of more recent times. What other foods did indigenous people eat; and what's an atlatl, anyway? Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 1, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 2:15 p.m. The CCC in Saguaro NP Talk: 45 minutes
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a Great Depression-era work program that greatly influenced national, state, and county parks. Saguaro's trails, picnic areas, and scenic drives were established during this program. Old photos and movie clips illustrate a brief history of the CCC in this area. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 2, 9 9:45 a.m. Neighborhood Characters Walk: 40 minutes, 100 yards
An easy morning walk in the Cactus Garden will bring visitors face to thorns with plants that remind them of people they know, friendly and otherwise. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 2, 7, 9, 16, 18, 23, 24, 26, 29, 30 10:45 a.m. A Hohokam Woman's Day Walk: 45 min., 100 yards Discover how a Hohokam woman may have used the plants for medicine and food for her family. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 2, 3, 7, 9, 16, 23, 29 3:15 p.m. Homesteading Adventures in the Desert Talk: 30 min.
Enjoy the fascinating oral history surrounding Mexican American Homesteaders' adventures around Saguaro National Park communities. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 3, 10, 17 10:45 a.m. Thirsty Mammals Hike: 1 hour, ¾ mile
Sonoran Desert mammals are seldom seen, but they are present in great diversity and numbers. Where are they? How do they survive in the desert climate? Come along to learn the answers.

Dec. 4, 22 2:15 p.m. Desert "Pigs" Talk: 40 minutes
As the book title says, "Don't Call Me Pig," but there is a resemblance between pigs and peccaries, also called javelinas. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 4, 11, 18 3:15 p.m. Meet the Cuckoo of the Desert Talk: 45 minutes
Learn about the natural history and behavior of this colorful creature: the roadrunner. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26 2:15 p.m. Those Who Came Before Talk: 45 minutes
Learn about the Hohokam, indigenous people who inhabited this area from about A.D. 250 to about A.D. 1450. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 6, 13, 20 2:15 p.m. Geology of the Tucson Mountains Talk: 45 minutes
The Tucson Mountains used to be part of the Santa Catalina Mountains. A geologist explains how they separated and what is shaping the Tucson Mountains today.

Dec. 6, 13, 20 3:15 p.m. Signs of Life in the Desert 45 minutes, ½ mile
Watch for holes, hoof prints, scat, and other evidence of animal life as you enjoy an easy, ½-mile walk around the visitor center.

Dec. 14, 21, 28 10:45 a.m. Birding Adventure 45 minutes, 100 yards
Join an expert birder on a nature walk to discover what's flying around out there.

Dec. 17, 21, 24, 26, 30 3:15 p.m. Snakes Talk: 30 minutes
Learn about the communication skills, special adaptations, and defense systems of snakes, those often misunderstood creatures. A bit of folk lore also is shared. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 18, 22, 24 11:45 a.m. Desert Jigsaw Puzzle 45 minutes, 100 yards
and Dec. 21, 28 1:15 p.m.
When competition and cooperation vie for attention in the Sonoran Desert, the result is an intricate, wondrous jigsaw puzzle of plants and animals. Wheelchair accessible.

Dec. 27 3:15 p.m. Synergy in the Desert Illustrated Talk + 50-yard Walk
For all of life, "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is true. The iconic Saguaro is the focal point for a discussion of how the parts of the Sonoran Desert work together to create a rich living desert that is unique in the world.

Special Programs offered at the Rincon Mountain District (Saguaro East):

December 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 10:30 a.m. Walk with the Saguaros 1 Mile Guided Walk
December 4, 11, 18 2:00 p.m.
Join a naturalist for this 2-hour, 2-mile easy walk to discover the many fascinating facts about the Saguaro cactus. Sturdy footwear and water are recommended.

December 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 2:00 p.m. With and Without Water 2 Mile Hike
Join park staff to discover the effects of seasonal rains on the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. Sturdy footwear and water are recommended.

December 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 17, 18, 29, 24, 27, 31 10:30 a.m. Sonoran Lifestyles 1 Mile Guided Walk
Join a park naturalist on this 2-hour, 1-mile walk to discover how plants and animals adapt to life in the desert. Sturdy footwear and water are recommended

December 4, 11, 18 3:00 p.m. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Sonoran Desert* Presentation
Join park naturalist Bob Brandner for this 30-minute presentation to discover the fascinating world of reptiles and amphibians. Wheelchair accessible.

December 5, 12, 19, 26 9:00 a.m. Desert Morning Hike 4 Mile Guided Hike
Join volunteer Dick Hollenback on this 3-hour, 4-mile hike to explore Saguaro National Park. Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring water and a trail snack.

December 6, 14, 20, 27 2:00 p.m. Cactus Caravan Auto Tour
Begin your exploration of the Cactus Forest Drive with a park ranger and become familiar with some of the common cacti. A great introduction to the park! Wheelchair accessible.

December 7, 21 8:30 a.m. Desert Bird Walk Easy Hike
Join volunteer naturalist Vicki Powers for an easy 2-hour walk in search of desert birds. Sturdy footwear and water are recommended.

December 9, 16, 23, 30 10:30 a.m. Arizona Rainforest Easy Guided Walk
Join a park naturalist for this 90 minute stroll along a desert wash. We'll identify the trees of the cactus forest and learn how essential rain is to the abundant life of the Sonoran Desert. Sturdy footwear and water are recommended.

December 9, 16, 23, 30 2:00 p.m. Park History 101 2 Mile Guided Hike
A hike down memory lane. Join park ranger Arlo Ogden on a two mile, two hour hike to discover some of the unique history of Saguaro National Park. Trails and topics change weekly. Sturdy footwear and water are recommended.

December 12, 19, 26 3:00 p.m. The Cooler Side of Saguaros Presentation
Join park staff in the cool comfort of the visitor center auditorium to explore the life of the Saguaro Cactus. Discover how this cactus and other desert dwellers adapt to a life in an often challenging environment. Wheelchair accessible.

December 13 7:00 p.m. Star Party Illustrated Program & Activity
Join park naturalists for an introduction to astronomy and a look at the desert night sky. Telescopes and binoculars will be available. Reservations required. Call 733-5153 Wheelchair accessible.

December 14, 28 7:00 p.m. Night Walk I Mile Guided Walk
Join a park naturalist for this easy 2-hour hike to explore and experience the Sonoran Desert at night. Dress for the weather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring water and a flashlight. Reservations required. Call 733-5153

December 27 5:30 p.m. Holiday Caravan Guided Auto Tour
Explore the natural lore of the solstice holiday on a unique nighttime drive through the park's loop drive. Auto tours will be offered at 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 p.m., and will feature several stops along the 8-mile Cactus Forest Drive. Each tour lasts approximately 1½ hours. Cookies and cider will be offered at the visitor center all evening. Reservations required. Call 733-5153 Wheelchair accessible.

Daily Programs
The park's two districts offer additional daily interpretive programs not listed here. Contact either of our visitor centers for updated schedules, or visit our website online at

Visitor Center Locations/Phone Numbers
Both visitor centers are open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, except Christmas Day.

Red Hills Visitor Center (Saguaro WEST)
2700 North Kinney Road
(520) 733-5158

Rincon Mountain Visitor Center (Saguaro EAST)
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
(520) 733-5153


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