Treasured Landscapes: Hiking Organ Pipe and Saguaro National Park

Join experts in southern Arizona to hike among the signature cacti of Saguaro National Park and Organ Pipe. Experience stunning landscapes and a dazzling array of life.
Rating (4.89)
Program No. 22724RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

The Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona is like a great sea of mighty cacti and windswept brush — its vast desert basins lap against isolated mountains that stand like lost islands. These swaths of desert may look barren to the untrained eye, but beneath that facade lay hidden oases and spectacular vistas teeming with life. Join local experts to explore Saguaro National Park and the magical lands of Ajo — one of Arizona’s hidden gems. Enjoy forays on the winding trails of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and discover an incredible diversity of life as you hike these majestic landscapes.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Daily hikes of 3-7 miles over varied terrain. Elevation changes of 500–1,000 feet. Elevations above 3,000 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Enjoy an introduction to the Sonoran Desert with a hike among the iconic cacti of Saguaro National Park.
  • Explore Ajo with four days of invigorating hikes in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the surrounding Ajo area.
  • Stay at the newly-designed Sonoran Desert Conference Center in the heart of Ajo and near the town’s historic, Spanish-style plaza.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Matt Turner
Since he decided to attend high school in Southwest Colorado, Matt Turner has been in love with the natural wonders of the Four Corners region prompting him to obtain a degree in Natural History from Prescott College. In addition to working as a field biologist and ecological consultant, he is an avid photographer, leads trips throughout the Southwest, across rivers and in the backcountry. As a naturalist, he hopes to impart a unique perspective of the region's natural environment in all of its visitors.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Matt Turner
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Bruce Banker
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
by Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)
"Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.
Birds of Arizona Field Guide
by Stan Tekiela
Learn about and identify birds using Stan Tekiela's state-by-state field guides. The full-page, color photos are incomparable and include insets of winter plumage, color morphs and more. Plus, with the easy-to-use format, you don't need to know a bird's name or classification in order to easily find it in the book. Using this field guide is a real pleasure. It's a great way for anyone to learn about the birds in your state.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Book of Answers
by David Wentworth Lazaroff
What exactly is a desert? How can I attract hummingbirds? Are cactus spines poisonous? Is a javelina a pig? This book provides detailed answers to 42 questions that the staff at the Desert Museum are most often asked. Supplemented with nearly 100 illustrations, this 200 page book is broken down into three sections: getting to know the desert, the desert as one's backyard, and enjoying the desert. Seven useful appendixes cover a range of topics including hummingbird gardening, venomous bites and stings, climate, and additional sources of information about desert life. A fun way to learn how wild and fascinating our deserts really are! 192 pg.
Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, the noted author's most enduring nonfiction work, is an account of Abbey's seasons as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah. Abbey reflects on the nature of the Colorado Plateau desert, on the condition of our remaining wilderness, and on the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world.
Roadside Geology of Arizona
by Chronic, Halka
The 18th printing of this book in the Roadside Geology Series offers a mini-course in geology, focusing on what can be seen from Arizona highways. Although written especially for those with little or no geologic training, there's plenty here for the professional geologist as well--a great introduction to Arizona and its past. Geologic terms are defined where first used and again in the glossary. Inside the front cover is a legend to geological symbols and abbreviations commonly used by geologists. 321pp
Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis
by Glennon, Robert
In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out. Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.
The Secret Knowledge of Water
by Childs, Craig
Deserts are environments that can be inhospitable even to seasoned explorers. Craig Childs has spent years in the deserts of the American West, and his treks through arid lands in search of water reveal the natural world at its most extreme. This book is a very personal narrative about discovering not only the essence of water sources in arid lands but about the very soul of the place that contain these hidden treasures. A delightful read.

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