Watch the moonrise and explore Saguaro National Park by moonlight

Watch the moonrise and explore Saguaro National Park by moonlight

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Mountain District of the Saguaro National Park is announcing the start of their annual moonlight program series.

The season opened in November and runs through April. Each month, five days' worth of events are scheduled, including musical program on the patio of the Red Hills Visitor Center (2700 N. Kinney Road).

Dates are subject to change due to weather and other conditions; starting times vary for each hike, depending on the time of the moonrise. For reservations, up to 30 days in advance, or for additional information about the hikes, call (520) 733-5158.

No reservations are necessary for the Moonrise Over The Mountain patio programs. The cost of the events is included in the park entrance fee.

Program Descriptions:

Wasson Peak Moon Hike: 7 hours, 8 miles, April 17 at 1:45 p.m.
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, length, and hiking after dark. Ages 12 and older.

Twilight Glow to Moon Shadows: 3 1/3 hours, 3 1/2 miles, April 18.
This walk bridges sunset into moonlight, letting hikers experience the desert in both the glow of twilight and the light of the moon. It ascends a hill with a gentle, packed slope, then changes trails to descend in a sandy wash. The hike is completed with a return on a dirt road. Ages 10 and older.

Sunset Hike: 3 1/3 hours, 2 1/2 miles, 3 p.m.  April 19.
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.

Moonlight Reflections: 1 1/2 to 2 miles, 2  to 2 1/2 hours. The hike will be held April 20.
This hike, new this season, is the shortest and easiest of the monthly moon hikes. Covering 1 1/2 to 2 miles in 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on distance and pace, this hike begins on flat terrain, then follows a sandy wash before climbing a terraced hillside that features low, well-defined, and widely spaced steps that nevertheless give knees a workout. The hike goes about half way to a ridgeline. After resting at a view point, hikers will descend and then return on a dirt road in the light of the moon. Ages 10 and older.

Moonrise Over The Mountains: Patio talk: 45 minutes, April 21.
Once again, music will fill the air as we watch the full moon rise over the mountains and the cactus forest while our version of a "campfire" blazes. Guitarist-singer-songwriter Mark William will perform, as will Native American flute player Robert Hval. Please bring a folding chair and a blanket or jacket, as the evening may be chilly. All ages welcome; no pets or picnics, please.

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