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.

Saguaro Fruit Harvest
June 25 or 27
, 2023

High summer is the beginning of the O’odham calendar, as this is the time to harvest saguaro fruit. Spend the morning gathering fruit in the O’odham manner, using a harvesting pole made from the ribs of the giant cactus. The class begins with a blessing and song by our O’odham friends who share their family stories about the importance of the saguaro. We learn about different ways that the fruit is prepared and preserved, and about the animals that use the saguaro for food and shelter. This class will take place from 7 - 11 a.m., and is entirely outdoors at a site a couple of miles from the Museum.

June 25th   $60/Person Member or $66/Person Non-Member

June 27th   $60/Person Member or $66/Person Non-Member


Birding the Chiricahuas
July 5 - 7, 2023

The Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona are world-famous for their biological diversity.  On this trip, we head to this Sky Island range to explore the birdlife.  Habitats we will explore include high elevation pine forest of Rustler and Barfoot parks, riparian groves, oak woodlands, and desert scrub, each with its own collection of birds.  On this trip, we expect to see Blue-throated Mountain-gem, Elegant Trogon, Greater Pewee, Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart, and more.  We will also do some nocturnal exploring for owls, moths, and other wildlife. We will lodge and have meals in Portal, Arizona at the Southwestern Research Station.

Itinerary and Trip Details

Dorm Rooms $850/Person Double Occupancy or $900/Person Single Occupancy

Rooms with Private Bath $950/Person Double Occupancy or $1100/Person Single Occupancy

Prickly Pear Harvest                                         
August 13 or 19, 2023

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 be eaten as well. 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.

August 13th   $60/Person Member or $66/Person Non-Member

August 19th   $60/Person Member or $66/Person Non-Member


Mesa Verde, Durango, Historic Silverton Train
August 21 - 26, 2023

Our expedition through southwestern Colorado features some of the most significant archeological geography in the United States.  Ancestral Puebloans chose Mesa Verde as their home over a millennium ago, building an elaborate culture among the canyons and cliffs. Highlights include a full day exploring Mesa Verde - the largest archaeological preserve in the U.S., time at the seldom-visited sites of Hovenweep and Lowry house ruins located in the Canyons of the Ancients, and Aztec Ruins National Monument.  The tour culminates with two nights in beautiful Durango, featuring a full-day first class steam train excursion from Durango to Silverton.  A National Historic Landmark, the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been in continuous operation running trains on this 45-mile branch of the original Denver & Rio Grande Railway since 1882. The route snakes through the ruggedly beautiful San Juan Mountains. Our final night is in Winslow, spent at the prestigious La Posada Hotel with dinner in the famed Turquoise Room. Cultural conservationist Jesús García and geomorphologist/anthropologist Fred Nials will be our personal guides.

Itinerary and Trip Details

$2975/Person Double Occupancy or $3575/Person Single Occupancy

Northern Spain via the Slow Train
September 11 – 21, 2023

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 a 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-gauged 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. This is a pre-trip to our main tour (Spain:  Moors and Christian, Olives and Wine), but can be experienced without registering for the main tour.

Itinerary and Trip Details

$3800/Person Double Occupancy or $4470/Person Single Occupancy

Spain:  Moors and Christians, Olives and Wine
Tracing the Cultural and Agricultural Roots of the Southwest
September 21 – October 4, 2023

In the Southwest we use the adjective "Spanish" frequently and loosely. Indeed, many elements of our culture originate in Spain. But, the 16th - 18th century Christian Spain that colonized the Americas was the sum total of its previous occupants - Arabs, Jews, Visigoths and Romans. Join us in an exploration of the cathedrals, markets, orchards, towns, ancient castles and sunny beaches with an eye for the influencing factors of these peoples. During the fall grape harvest you will tour a rural winery, walk fields and orchards, make paella, even see the Holy Grail... Destinations include Barcelona, Valencia, Toledo and Madrid. This trip is very personalized with a maximum group size of 20.

There is a pre-trip extension to the north that you may be interested in signing up for as well. It is timed to end in Barcelona on the same day that this trip begins.

Itinerary and Trip Details

$4790/Person Double Occupancy or $5540/Person Single Occupancy

Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
October 28 and 29

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!

$150/Person Member or $165/Person Non-Member


Rainwater Harvesting Tour
November 11, 2023

In the Australian Outback everyone does it. In the Sonoran Desert the rain, in vain, falls mainly down the drain. But, not for everyone! See how this bounty can be harvested in a small park, on neighborhood tree-lined streets, in urban homes. Calculate how much water can be collected off of your own roof and find out about various options for storage and diversion. Participants will learn about and see many strategies they can apply at their own home and neighborhoods. The tour will be entirely outdoors.

$30/Person Member or $33/Person Non-Member


Black Lava White Sand
November 14 – 17, 2023
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