‘Holiday Cactus Caravan’ family auto tours at Saguaro National Park East

‘Holiday Cactus Caravan’ family auto tours at Saguaro National Park East
(Walton, Elizabeth)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - In what has become a holiday tradition, Saguaro National Park’s Rincon Mountain District (East) will open the Cactus Forest Loop Drive for special starlight driving tours on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 27.

Park rangers will lead 90-minute auto tours beginning at 5 pm and continuing every 30 minutes after that, with the last tour at 8 p.m. Visitors will drive their own cars on the tour, which includes a short walk on a fully accessible trail. Space is limited on all programs and advance reservations are required.

Reservations are accepted by telephone at (520) 733-5153, or in person at the visitor center at 3693 South Old Spanish Trail (approximately 3 miles east of Houghton Road).

These tours are a perfect way to connect family and friends to the natural world of the desert at this festive time of year. This year’s ‘Holiday Cactus Caravan’ will focus on the natural history and human lore of the winter solstice. “Visitors really enjoy this unusual chance to enjoy the Cactus Forest Drive at night,” says Park Guide Jeff Wallner. “We stop at overlooks along the way to engage folks in stories under the dark, star-filled skies over the park’s wilderness. Visitors are surprised to realize how many natural features, from evergreen plants to colorful wildlife, are a part of our seasonal celebrations.”

Hot cider and cookies will be available at the visitor center before and after each tour. A new park video can be sampled there as well, and families can win a poster of the park with a quick pre- and post-tour quiz.

Participants should carry their own water and snacks in the car, bring a flashlight for use at stops, and dress for the night’s weather, as the program will run rain or star-shine. Programs are suited to all age levels and physical abilities.

There is no additional charge for the program, but regular park entrance fees of $15 per vehicle apply. The Saguaro and Interagency Annual passes, as well as Senior, Golden Age, and Access Lifetime passes will be honored for entrance.

Further information and reservations for these and many other park programs is available by calling the visitor center at (520) 733-5153 at www.nps.gov/sagu

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