December events at Saguaro National Park - Tucson News Now

December events at Saguaro National Park

(Source: National Park Service) (Source: National Park Service)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Saguaro National Park is offering a variety of walks and talks that explore the park’s wonderful natural and cultural histories. Program listings also are available on the park’s website,, or visit us on Facebook. Interpretive programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Be sure to call in advance to make your reservations, as some events require them. 

Naturalist Programs at Tucson Mountain District (West District):

Programs are offered on most days in the morning at 10:15 and/or 11:15, and in the afternoon at 2:15 and/or 3:15 and last 30 to 45 minutes, unless noted otherwise.  Topics include mountain lions, lizards, coyotes, roadrunners, javelinas, kangaroo rats, insects, flowers, birds, plant and animal survival strategies, and the saguaro cactus.


Dec. 2, 9, 23, 30 9:45 a.m.     The Plants Tell All      Walk: 2 hours, 1 1/2 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. 
Dec 10, 24 9:45 a.m.      Bird Walk   30 minutes plus optional additional 30 minutes, 1/2 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 area with 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. No reservations required. All ages are invited.
Dec. 6, 13, 20, 27 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 cougar remains threatened by human encroachment. Wheelchair accessible
Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 3:15 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
Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 3:15 p.m.   Cooking With Prickly Pear     Talk: 30 minutes     
Learn how you can incorporate prickly pear into your diet. This program will show you how to collect and prepare prickly pear. Prepare for a sweet treat! Wheelchair accessible
Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28 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
Dec. 5, 12, 26 2:15 p.m.    What is the Reason for the Saguaro Fruit Harvest?  Talk: 30 min
For over a hundred years the Tohono O’odham have harvested the saguaro fruit every summer. Come participate in a cultural experience and learn about this enriching tradition. Wheelchair accessible
Dec. 1, 18, 10:15 a.m.  Cochineal: Nature’s Most Radiant Red Dye   Talk: 45 minutes
Come learn about cochineal and how it transformed world history.  This program will show you techniques on how to use cochineal as a natural fabric dye.  Wheelchair accessible.

Naturalist Programs at the Rincon Mountain District (East, 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail):


December 5, 12, 26       9:00 a.m.          Birds of the Desert       Guided Walk
Join a park naturalist on this one-mile walk in search of our desert birds. Comfortable walking shoes and water are recommended; bring your binoculars.
December 7, 14, 21, 28    2:00 p.m.       Night as Day: Nocturnal Life in Saguaro National Park   Presentation
Discover the ecological community that comes to life in the nighttime, including nocturnal animals, night-blooming plants and pollinators. Accessible Program
December 7   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 are required. Call the Visitor Center at (520) 733-5153. Accessible Program

December 8      9:00 a.m.          Douglas Spring Hike    Guided Hike
Come explore the sights along the Douglas Spring Trail, including Bridal Wreath Falls (will there be water?) and Wildhorse Tank. This is 5-mile, 4-hour hike. Sturdy hiking shoes, water and a trail snack are recommended.
December 13 & 20        10:00 a.m.         History of the Rincon Valley     Guided Hike
Take a stroll down the Hope Camp and Ridge View Trails and learn about the homesteaders and ranchers who settled here, as well as other aspects of the Rincon and Tanque Verde Valleys. Comfortable walking shoes and water are recommended.
December 16                2:00 p.m.          D-SLR Photography Workshop Activity
Join park staff and photographer Alan Johnson for a 2-hour workshop covering the basics of digital SLR photography and an opportunity to practice shooting on the scenic trails of Saguaro National Park. Reservations are required. Call the Visitor Center at (520) 733-5153.      
December 22    10:30 a.m.         Children’s Desert Art Class                  Activity 
Children of all ages are invited to meet our ranger/nature artist Maria at the Visitor Center to create their own holiday greeting cards. Reservations are recommended. Call the Visitor Center at (520) 733-5153.
December 22                7:00 p.m.             Night Walk               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. Comfortable walking shoes, water and a flashlight are recommended.  Reservations are required.  Call the Visitor Center at (520) 733-5153
December 28                5:00 p.m.          Holiday Caravan                       Auto Tour
Explore the natural lore of the solstice holiday on a unique nighttime drive through the park’s loop drive.  Auto tours will be offered at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 p.m., and will feature several stops along the 8-mile Cactus Forest Drive.  Each tour lasts approximately 1½ hours.  Cookies and cider will be offered at the visitor center all evening. Samples of desert food products will also be available for tasting. Reservations are required. Call the Visitor Center at (520) 733-5153. Accessible Program
December 31                2:00 p.m.  
       Sunset & Moonrise 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. Sturdy hiking shoes, water and a trail supper are recommended. Reservations are required. Call the Visitor Center at (520) 733-5153.
For a complete listing - please visit the website -, or contact the visitor centers for daily updates.

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

  • Red Hills Visitor Center  (Saguaro WEST) - 2700 North Kinney Road Tucson, AZ 85743  (520) 733-5158                            
  • Rincon Mountain Visitor Center  (Saguaro EAST) - 3693 South Old Spanish Trail Tucson, AZ  85730 (520) 733-5153

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

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