Saguaro National Park March 2016 Guided Programs Schedule

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Date: February 20, 2016
Contact: Melanie Florez, (520)733-5153
Contact: Richard Hill , (520)733-5158

Naturalist Programs at Tucson Mountain District (West; 2700 N. Kinney Road)


March 6  9 a.m. – 5 p.m.Centennial Celebration!
Join us to celebrate the 100th birthday year of the National Park Service and the long history of Tucson's backyard national park. Activities are free of charge and include games such as Sonoran Desert Bingo, a craft corner for children (10:00 a.m. –3:00 p.m.), a book signing by illustrator Sylvia Long, special presentations from biologists about our namesake species, presentations about park history and also about the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a fabulous mariachi concert by the Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School (11:20 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). Food service will be for sale by vendors. Theater and patio presentations are wheelchair accessible. (Please note: the parks' regular 15-minute video will not be shown that day due to special presentations in the theater.)

Daytime Indoor or Patio Programs at the Visitor Center

March 5, 12, 19, 26  2:15 p.m.  The CCC in the Tucson Mountains  Talk: 45 minutes
The Civilian Conservation Corps (1933-1943) was launched in the midst of The Great Depression to give young men jobs restoring the country's depleted soil and forest resources. Much of this involved building the infrastructures of public facilities in the Tucson area, including many of the stone structures and trails at Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park. Wheelchair accessible.

March 5, 12, 19, 26  11:15 a.m.  Play Sonoran Desert Bingo!  Game: 1 hour
Learn about the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert while enjoying a rousing version of Bingo! Get five in a row –down, across, or diagonally –and win a non-monetary prize. Wheelchair accessible.

March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30  3:15 p.m.  Against All Odds  Talk: 30 minutes
A saguaro might produce 40 million seeds in its lifetime, but only one or two seedlings will survive into maturity. Discover how the "deck is stacked" against their survival and what conditions are needed for growth into the majestic icon of the desert. Wheelchair accessible.

March 13, 20, 27 2:15 p.m.   A Desert Trio: Snakes, Tortoises, and Monsters   Talk: 30 minutes
Snakes, desert tortoises, and gila monsters -- oh, my! This desert trio couldn't be more different, but yet they have a few things in common, such as being fascinating but misunderstood. Come learn about their communication skills, special adaptations, and defense systems. A bit of folk lore is also shared. Wheelchair accessible.

March 7, 14, 21, 28  11:15 a.m.  Rattlers! Talk: 40 minutes
Explore the life and lore, myths and misunderstandings concerning one of the desert Southwest's most intriguing icons. Don't worry: Live snakes won't be in attendance. Wheelchair accessible.

March 8, 22, 29  3:15 p.m.  Whales in the Desert  Talk: 45 minutes
Learn about the unique connection between whales and the Sonoran Desert. Wheelchair accessible.

March 2, 16, 30   10:15 a.m.  Mountain Lions: Beyond the Myth  Talk: 45 minutes
Envision a puma stalking its prey, then uncover the true nature of this elusive but essential predator. Misunderstood, maligned, and nearly eradicated by settlers, the mountain lion remains threatened by human encroachment. Wheelchair accessible.

March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31  11:15 a.m.  Living With Giants  Talk: 45 minutes
The saguaro celebrates events and faces challenges throughout its life. A biologist explains how it provides shelter and substance for wildlife;when it flowers;its growth patterns;and how it fights for survival against drought, lightning, frost, and other dangers. Wheelchair accessible.

March 4, 11, 18, 25  2:15 p.m.  Lizards are Hot, Lizards are Cool  Talk: 30 minutes
Lizards are small denizens of the desert that are a critical component of our desert community. Find out what it means when they do pushups or exhibit other odd behaviors. Wheelchair accessible.

March 1, 15  11:15 a.m.  Life Cycle of the Saguaro: Seed to Giant  Walk: 45 minutes, 100 yards
Hear some astonishing reasons about why so few Saguaro seeds make it to fruition.

March 1, 15  10:15 a.m.  Adaptations: Recipe for Survival  Easy 100-yard walk: 30 minutes
Take a walk in our Cactus Garden Walk to discover some physical and behavioral adaptations of desert plants.

March 9, 16, 23, 30  11:15 a.m.  Synergy in the Desert: The Sonoran Habitat  Talk and Walk: 45 minutes
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.

March 14, 28   2:15 p.m.   Homesteading  Adventures  Talk: 30 minutes
March12, 193:15 p.m.The Hispanic women from homesteading families in the Tucson area left records of their adventures, and a ranger reads some of these fascinating first-person accounts. Wheelchair accessible.

March 7, 11, 13, 14, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31 3:15 p.m.  Javelinas: Our Desert Neighbors Talk: 30 minutes
Sometimes referred to as the "desert pig," the javelina is not a pig at all. Learn about this intriguing creature and how it survives in this arid environment. Wheelchair accessible.(This program also will be given in Spanish at 12:15 p.m. March 5, 26 )

Daytime Hikes And Short Walks

March 9, 23  2:15 p.m.  Kangaroo Rat: Super Survivor  Walk: 45 minutes
Learn about the remarkable behavioral and physical adaptations these rodents possess that allow them to survive harsh desert environments. Find out how the rodents escape predators, evade heat, and endure aridity while you search for burrows, runways and tracks of this nocturnal animal. The easy hike is on level ground but closed-toed shoes are required. Bring water and a hat.

March 12, 26   9:45 a.m.  Bird Walk  30 minutes plus optional additional 30 minutes, ½ mile
Join us for a 30-minute walk in the sandy wash behind the Visitor Center to see what birds live among the cacti and shrubs. Learn how they find food, water and shelter. Participants interested in more will drive 2 miles to Sus Picnic areawith its rocky canyon and hills for another 30-minute walk to see what wrens, hawks and other birds live there. The walk is on sand and dirt roads and is scheduled for the second and fourth Saturday mornings of March and April. No reservations required. All ages.

March 5, 19   9:45 a.m.   The Plants Tell All  Hike: 2 hours, 1½ miles
Plants are the foundation of the web of life. Join a park naturalist to learn the secrets of what ties the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert together. Plant survival, insects and spiders, birds and mammals -- nothing is off limits for discussion on this discovery trek through the desert. For this moderate walk, closed-toed shoes, a hat, and water are required.

March 9, 23 10:15 a.m.  Sonoran Secrets to Desert Survival  Walk: 60 minutes, 250 yards
Stroll the Cactus Garden and identify the most common hazards hidden in the desert, uncover survival strategies of native plants and animals, and acquire practical tips to ensure your safety. Wheelchair accessible.

March 13, 20   11:15 a.m.   Desert Jigsaw Puzzle   Walk: 45 minutes, 100 yards
March 3, 10, 17
2:15 p.m.;  March 5  3:15 p.m.;  March 19  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.

March 3, 7, 11, 17, 21, 24, 25, 31  10:15 a.m.  Spiny, Shady, and COOL!  Walk: 30 minutes, 100 yards
Come for a short walk and discover the great variety of cacti that inhabit this unique and fascinating desert.

March 1, 15  3:15 p.m.  How Do They Do It?  Walk: 15 minutes, 100 yards
Discover how the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert have adapted to the harsh conditions of this unique environment. (This program also is offered in Spanish March 1, 15 at 12:15 p.m.) Wheelchair accessible.

March 19, 28  10:15 a.m.  A Hohokam Woman's Day  Walk: 30 minutes, 100 yards
Join us as we try to help a Hohokam woman get through the trials and tribulations she may have experienced back in A.D. 400. We will look at desert plants and how she may have used them for medicinal solutions and foods for her family. Wheelchair accessible.

Evening and Nighttime Programs and Hikes

March 19  3:00 p.m.  Wasson Peak Moonlight Hike: 7 hours, 8 miles roundtrip
This hike climbs 1,700 feet to the highest point in the Tucson Mountains. Enjoy a 360-degree view of the sunset before descending by the light of the moon. The hike is at an easy-to-moderate pace but is considered difficult due to elevation gain and hiking after dark.Ages 12 and older.Reservations required;733-5158

March 20  5:00 p.m.  Twilight Glow to Moon Shadows   Moonlight Hike: 3 hours, 2 ½ miles
This walk bridges sunset into moonlight, letting hikers experience the desert in both the glow of twilight and the light of the waxing moon.It ascends a hill with a gentle, packed slope, and then changes trails to descend a sandy wash. The hike is completed with a return on a dirt road. Ages 10 and older. Reservations required: 733-5158.

March 21  4:15 p.m.  Sunset Hike  Moonlight Hike: 4 hours, 3 ½ miles
Discussions of water, geology, and plants will be highlights of mini-talks along this route, which gains 700 feet (with some switchbacks near the top) before reaching a ridgeline for sunset. The descent is by the light of the moon. Ages 10 and older.Reservations required;733-5158

March 22  5:00 p.m.  Moonlight Reflections   Moonlight hike: 2 1/2 hours, 2 miles
The shortest and easiest of the winter monthly moon hikes covers 2 miles in 2 1/2 hours. Imagine yourself living in olden times as you cross a flat terrain, follow a sandy wash that has been nature's highway for centuries, then climb a terraced hillside full of plants adapted to a rocky hillside. After a stop to rest and view the sunset, you will descend and complete your journey on a dirt road in the moonlight. Ages 10 and older. Reservations required: 733-5158.

March 23 7:30 p.m. Moonrise Over The Mountains  Patio program: 45 minutes
Popular guitarist and singer-songwriter Mark William and Native American flute player Robert Hval will play music on the patio as visitors watch the full moon rise over the mountains. Bring a folding chair and blankets or coats. All ages.Wheelchair accessible.No reservations necessary.

Spanish Language Programs

March 1, 15  12:15 p.m.  ¿Como Pueden Sobrevivir?  Walk: 15 minutes, 100 yards
(Spanish version of How Do They Do It?)Charla en Español donde discutiremos como las plantas y animales del desierto Sonorense se han adaptado a través de los años para poder sobrevivir y florecer en nuestro único y duro ambienteWheelchair accessible.

March 5, 26  12:15 p.m.  Jabalíes, Nuestros Vecinos Del Desierto  Talk: 30 minutes
(Spanish version of Javelina: Our Desert Neighbors)Usted está invitado a acompañar a un naturalista del parque durante su presentación "Jabalíes, Nuestros Vecinos del Desierto." A veces referido como el cerdo del desierto, averigüe por qué el jabalí no es un cerdo. Descubra la historia natural de este fascinante animal y cómo se las arregla para sobrevivir en este ambiente árido. Wheelchair accessible.

Naturalist Programs at Rincon Mountain District (East; 3693 S Old Spanish Trail)

March 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15 10:00 a.m.  Sonoran Lifestyles  Guided Walk
18, 21, 22, 25, 28, 29
Join a park naturalist on this 2-hour, 1-mile walk to discover how plants and animals adapt to life in the desert.Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water.

March 1 11:00 a.m. &  2:00 p.m.  CENTENNIAL!  Presentation
6, 27  3:00 p.m.
Celebrate the National Park Service's 100th Anniversary with a tour through time. We'll share history and scenery from every corner of the country, going back 100 years and more!

March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29   3:00 p.m.   Birds of the Desert Southwest  Presentation
Join a park naturalist in the visitor center auditorium to explore the wide variety of birds found here in the desert southwest.Wheelchair accessible.

March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30  9:00 a.m.  Desert Morning Hike   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.

March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30  10:00 a.m.   Desert Discovery   Guided Walk
Join a park naturalist on this 2-mile, 2-hour hike to discover what's out there in the desert. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water.

March 2, 23  11:00 a.m.  The Point of the Matter is Cactus  Presentation
12  1:00 p.m.
Cactus are much more than strange plants with spines. They are uniquely equipped to thrive in the desert environment, and every year bloom with spectacular flowers. This theater presentation will highlight these survival marvels with a beautiful photo gallery.Wheelchair accessible.

March 2, 9, 23, 30 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.

March 3, 17, 31  10:00 a.m.  Visitor's Choice/Naturalist's Choice   Guided Walk
Here's your chance to take a walk with a park naturalist with 10+ years' experience in the Sonoran Desert. Bring your favorite question or topic, or just enjoy the best stories of the day: wildlife, wildflowers, or wilderness, as the weather and the seasons change. Sturdy shoes and water are recommended.

March 3, 10, 17, 31 2:00 p.m.  Drive-Thru Geology  1 ½ -hour  auto tour
Hop in your car for a journey through 25 million years of earth history…in one hour! We'll observe the varied landforms of the desert –bajadas, washes, outcrops –and find out why geology students from around the world come to see the Rincon Mountain foothills. (Hint: it's the mylonitic gneiss!)

March 3  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.

March 4, 11, 18, 25  2:00 p.m.  The Saguaro Nursery   ½ mile guided walk
The reports of the saguaro's demise were greatly exaggerated! Take a stroll along a trail to see the next generation of young saguaros and the gradual renewal of the Cactus Forest.

March 4, 18  3:00 p.m.  A Century of Tales  Presentation
Join us in the visitor center auditorium as we review a century of fun and interesting stories from those who lived and worked in what is today Saguaro National Park. Wheelchair accessible.

March 4, 18  7:00 p.m.  Night Walk   1 mile guided walk
Join a park naturalist for this easy two-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.As space is limited, advanced reservations are required, and can be made by calling (520) 733-5153.

March 5  10:00 a.m.  Sharing the Desert's Stories   Activity
Children 5 to 10 years of age and parents are invited to come join us in the visitor center auditorium as we bring some of the Sonoran Desert's stories to life. This month's theme will be Desert Reptiles. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (520) 733-5153. Wheelchair accessible

March 5, 26  1:00 p.m.   A Sticky Situation at Saguaro   Presentation
16  11:00 a.m.
Here at Saguaro National Park East we have 20 species of cactus and each is beautiful in its own way. Finding them all can be a challenge, but we will see each one in a stunning photo gallery and learn a few uses these plants have to those living here and beyond. Theater presentation. Wheelchair accessible.

March 5, 19  2:30 p.m.  Living in a Cactus Forest
Our "Cactus Forest" was protected as a National Monument in 1933. But that doesn't mean it hasn't changed. Take an easy stroll through this desert preserve to learn about the past AND discuss the future of your National Park and the growing Tucson community.

March 5, 19, 26   6:00 p.m.  Sunset Hike  Guided Hike
Sonoran Desert sunsets are famous for their blazing colors. Join a park ranger to discover how nature will paint the sky tonight. Wear sturdy walking shoes.

March 6, 27  11:00 a.m.  The GIANT Cactus   ¾ mile guided walk
Saguaro National Park is famous for its gigantic saguaros. Still, you have to know where to look to find a real giant among giants. The best way is to join a ranger for a walk along a desert wash for a lesson in trees of the desert and a look at the only tree-like cactus in the U.S. You'll be surprised by the size! Sturdy shoes and water are recommended.

March 7, 21  2:00 p.m.  Grizzlies, Jaguars and Wolves –Oh My!  Presentation
Come listen in as we discuss the predators that once called Saguaro National Park home. How has human action impacted the park's natural history regarding these creatures? Is there a chance that these animals could ever come back?

March 8  9:00 a.m.  The History of the Rincon Valley  Guided Hike
Take a stroll down the Hope Camp Trail and learn about the homesteaders and ranchers who settled here, as well as other aspects of the Rincon and Tanque Verde Valleys. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water and a trail snack. Advance reservations are required and can be made by calling (520) 733-5153.

March 8, 15, 22, 28  11:00 a.m.  A Taste of the Desert   Garden Walk
Join us for a stroll through our cactus garden and learn what plants can be used for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and much more. Wheelchair accessible.

March 8, 29 12:30 p.m.  Tortoises of the United States*  Presentation
Join volunteer and herpetologist Bob Brandner to discover the different species of tortoises found in the U.S and which ones call Arizona home.

March 9, 30  11:00 a.m.  Flash, Whoosh, Gush, and Growth: Sonoran Desert Monsoon Rain*
 19  1:00 p.m.  Presentation
The summer heat and humidity bring the mighty and sometimes destructive monsoon rain. Saguaros, toads, and others depend on these drenching storms to begin a new season of life in the dry desert. A fabulous video opens this theater presentation. Wheelchair accessible.

March 10, 24  10:00 a.m.  Where Have All the Saguaros Gone? 2 mile Guided Hike
Why does it look like our saguaros are disappearing? Join a park naturalist to discover what historic activities, including lime kilns, have affected our saguaro forest and learn how theses giant cacti are faring today.

March 11, 25  11:00 a.m.  The Changing Cactus Forest*  Presentation
Join us in the visitor center auditorium to discover how the changes in the Cactus Forest over the years relate to potential changes in the future. Included will be a discussion of major climate change effects on parks, relating each to Saguaro National Park.

March 11, 25  3:00 p.m.  Creating Saguaro National Park   presentation
Join staff in the visitor center auditorium to discover how abuse, failure, politics, commitment, recovery and the Tucson Garden Club all played a part in creating today's Saguaro National Park.Wheelchair accessible.

March 12  8:00 a.m.  Monthly Buffelgrass Pull
Join park staff in the fight to eradicate buffelgrass, an invasive plant. Meet at the Rincon Mountain Visitor Center parking lot. Long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes are required. Tools and gloves will be provided. Bring a snack and plenty of water. Contacte-mail uswith questions.

March 14, 28  2:00 p.m.  Mountain Islands in a Desert Sea  Presentation
Interested in learning about the Saguaro National Park that most visitors will never experience? Sky islands are considered to be some of the most unique, biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Join us to discuss Saguaro's high-elevation habitat and how we can continue to protect these very special wild places for the future.

March 15, 26  9:00 a.m.  The Destruction of Granite: A Trip to the Fault  Guided Hike
Join a ranger on a guided auto tour and hike inside the loop drive at Saguaro National Park. We will discuss the geological history of the park as well as southeastern Arizona. The hike portion will be 5 miles round trip. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water and a trail snack. Advance reservations are required and can be made by calling (520) 733-5153.

March 15  12:30 p.m.  Venomous Reptiles at Saguaro National Park   Presentation
Come discover the fascinating lives of the venomous reptiles that call the Sonoran Desert their home in this auditorium presentation by volunteer and herpetologist Bob Brandner.Wheelchair accessible.

March 20  3:00 p.m.  Sunset and Moonlight Hike   Guided Hike
View the Arizona sunset from a perch high in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains, then experience the magic of a walk through the moonlit Cactus Forest. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the visitor center at (520) 733-5153.

March 22  12:30 p.m.  Living With and Without Reptiles  Presentation
Join volunteer and herpetologist Bob Brandner in the visitor center auditorium to explore the biology of Sonoran Desert reptiles and how we can share the desert with them,Wheelchair accessible.

Visitor Center Locations/Phone Numbers

Both visitor centers are open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm, except Christmas Day.

Red Hills Visitor Center (Saguaro West)
2700 North Kinney Road
Tucson, Az 85743

Rincon Mountain Visitor Center (Saguaro East)
3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, Az 85730

For more information about Saguaro National Park and some of its partners, Friends of Saguaro Nationa Park, Western National Parks Association, and the Rincon Institute, visit these websites:

Last updated: March 9, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson , AZ 85730


(520) 733-5153

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