Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Adult Classes and Trips
Inquiries regarding class or itinerary details may be directed to / 520-883-3030.
For assistance with registration please contact the Reservations Coordinator at / 520-883-3025.

Prickly Pear Harvest
August 17 or 23, 2024

August is the season that the beautiful red fruit of the prickly pear cactus ripens. Join us in harvesting this fruit, cleaning it, practicing three different ways of rendering juice from it, and learning how to make jelly. But, the fruit is only half of the edible goods! The tender green pads can also be eaten. There are oh-so-many prickly pear species! Find out about our local ones, as well as those from southern Mexico that have been bred for over a millennia to be spineless. We’ll show you how to select, clean, grill, and pickle the pads, as well as share other natural history bits surrounding the nopal.

Prices and Registration Details - August 17

Prices and Registration Details - August 23

Northern Spain via the Slow Train
September 12 – 26, 2024

The rain in Spain falls mainly north of the plain. And that is why the land is emerald green. This is the land that the Celts originated from and that the Basques continue to inhabit. On this tour we learn about Bronze Age castros, Roman gold and iron mining, and Asturian and Cantabrian traditional lifeways. As a counterpoint to the old, we visit Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum of modern art, and learn about and taste Basque culture. We explore the hinterlands of farms, forests and hamlets, walking a stretch of the Camino de Santiago. Our coastal route follows the narrow-gauge local train, the FEVE, from which we hop on and off for stays at seaside towns, where we drink apple cider and enjoy regional seafood and Asturian fabada. Then there is the fairytale scenery:  the northern edge of the peninsula falls dramatically into the Cantabrian Sea in steeply tilted rock walls. To complement the landscape, we share lessons on the geology of the Iberian Peninsula.

Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
October 26 and 27, 2024
Would you like to be more knowledgeable about the animals, plants and landscape of our desert? This two-day survey course covers desert ecology, desert adaptations, climate, mammals, birds, reptiles, venomous animals, botany, geology and ethnobotany. We also touch on current threats to our desert such as invasive species, water and climate change issues, endangered species and recovery programs. With a variety of instructors and a Sunday morning botany hike we will pack a lot into one weekend!

New Mexico:  Pueblo Feasts, Heritage Farming and the Atomic Bomb
November 6 – 13, 2024
For over four centuries, the Old-World charm of Santa Fe has captivated travelers with its Spanish and Pueblo heritage.  In ancient times, Native Americans hunted and fished in the luxuriant valley at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, growing crops in the fertile plain of the river below.  Later, Santa Fe was established as a Spanish provincial capital. On this week-long tour, ethnologist Jesús Garcia connects the social, cultural, historical, and indigenous aspects of New Mexico.  Highlights include Los Alamos, the epicenter of the top-secret Manhattan Project; the bountiful feast celebration day at Jemez Pueblo; the sacred village of Chimayó; and the picturesque Los Luceros Ranch, specializing in traditional crops. Visits to iconic galleries will be extra special with guest lectures by renowned indigenous historians. If this wasn’t enough, we explore the rich history of conversos and Crypto Jews – Spain’s Jewish citizens who were forced to leave their country for not converting to Christianity.  

Itinerary and Trip Details

Rainwater Harvesting
November 16, 2024


In the Australian Outback everyone does it. In the Sonoran Desert the rain in vain falls mainly down the drain. Did you realize that by harvesting water in a well-mulched basin, you can keep moisture in the soil for up to two months? That moisture can produce lush bird and lizard habitat, and keep your home cooler, reducing utility bills. On this tour you will learn how to redirect rainwater from problem areas and how to calculate the amount of water can be collected off of your roof. We will also cover greywater, storage, related ordinances and incentives, shading, windows, slopes and diversion pipes. Participants will see many strategies that can be applied to their own home and neighborhood.

Rancho de la Osa
December 6 - 8, 2024
It rests in the desert grasslands along Arizona’s southern border with the dramatic backdrop of Baboquivari Peak always in view. On this tour, we visit the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which has breeding programs for the endangered pronghorn and Masked Bobwhite Quail and offers birding for many species including Herons, Gray Hawks, Vermillion Fly Catchers, Loggerhead Shrikes and Golden Eagles. We will take in a lot of local history, learning about the Spanish Barb horses that descend from Fr. Kino’s herd, about the Mexican Revolution as it was played out here, and about old ghost towns and mining camps. We take a side trip to see the border town of Sasabe, sprinkle geology lessons in, have a morning free for optional activities such as riding e-bikes or horses, and enjoy fabulous meals. Come nighttime, we are treated to cowboy poetry and a star-studded winter sky.

Black Lava White Sand
December 15 – 18, 2024
Explore El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with cultural conservationist Jesús García and geomorphologist/anthropologist Fred Nials. The volcanic landscape of the Pinacates includes huge maar craters, two varieties of lava flows, cinder cones, and majestic shifting dunes hosting their own specialized ecosystems. This young volcanic field is adjacent to the Sea of Cortez, which because of extreme low tides allows viewing of its marvelous intertidal marine life at the Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans. Uniting the desert and beach is one of the most important natural salt reserves in Mexico, Campo La Salina.  Located in Gulfo de Santa Clara where natural freshwater springs and saltwater meet, this layer of salt is sacred to the Tohono O’odham. For a special cultural experience, we’ll visit the O'odham community of Quitovac, an important oasis along the ancient salt pilgrimage trail to the sea.

Itinerary and Trip Details

Prices and Registration Details