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Arizona

Treasured Landscapes: Hiking Organ Pipe and Saguaro National Park

Program No. 22724RJ
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.
Length
7 days
Rating (4.92)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,699

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climate
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 23 - Jan 29, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Feb 13 - Feb 19, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Feb 19 - Feb 25, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Nov 6 - Nov 12, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Nov 12 - Nov 18, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2023
Starting at
1,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 23 - Jan 29, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Feb 13 - Feb 19, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Feb 19 - Feb 25, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Nov 6 - Nov 12, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Nov 12 - Nov 18, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2023
Starting at
2,109

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 13 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
Profile Image
Mike Masek
Mike Masek is a wilderness skills instructor, herbalist and ethnobotanist living in Flagstaff, Ariz. In addition to his current work with Road Scholar, he is adjunct faculty at Northern Arizona University where he teaches traditional uses of native plants and outdoor survival skills. He also teaches programs at the National Parks and Coconino Community College. He has spent a lifetime exploring the canyons and deserts of the American Southwest and loves to share these treasures with others.

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

Profile Image of Mike Masek
Mike Masek View biography
Mike Masek is a wilderness skills instructor, herbalist and ethnobotanist living in Flagstaff, Ariz. In addition to his current work with Road Scholar, he is adjunct faculty at Northern Arizona University where he teaches traditional uses of native plants and outdoor survival skills. He also teaches programs at the National Parks and Coconino Community College. He has spent a lifetime exploring the canyons and deserts of the American Southwest and loves to share these treasures with others.
Profile Image of Kristin Hooten
Kristin Hooten View biography
Kristin Hooten has spent the majority of her life in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona. She earned a bachelor's degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis in Outdoor Education and Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Kristin has worked in the outdoor industry in different capacities and enjoys her ongoing education with the surrounding region. When not in the office or field, she is found enjoying the great outdoors either on a paddleboard or in her camper.
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.
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.
A Guide to the Geology of Saguaro National Park
by Bezy, John V.
Saguaro National Park offers a variety of spectacular geologic features. Because of the relatively sparse vegetation in the lower elevations of the park, most of these features are easy to recognize and photograph. Some of these features are common throughout the Southwest. Others occur only in regions that have similar geology. This booklet is your field guide to the geology of this magnificent desert and mountain landscape. Most of the geologic features described in the text can be reached by short hikes from the tour roads of the park. This book is written for the visitor who has an interest in geology, but who may not have had formal training in the subject. It may also help ensure that the visiting geologist does not overlook some of the features described. http://repository.azgs.az.gov/uri_gin/azgs/dlio/1525
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
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.
A Guide to the Geology of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve
by Bezy, John V.; Gutmann, James T.; Haxel, Gordon B.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in SW Arizona and the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve in NW Sonora protect two magnificent yet geologically distinct parts of the Sonoran Desert. Rocks of the Organ Pipe-Pinacate region have been faulted and eroded into mountains and basins typical of the Basin and Range Province of SW North America. The Biosphere Reserve contains young volcanoes, basalt lava flows, and giant maar craters on the Pinacate Volcanic field. This booklet is your field guide to the geology of these splendid desert landscapes. http://repository.azgs.az.gov/uri_gin/azgs/dlio/1685
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.
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.
Meals
17 Meals
6 Breakfasts
5 Lunches
6 Dinners
The following choices may be available when requested in advance: Vegetarian, Gluten Free
Lodging
Lodgings may differ by date. Select a date to see the lodgings specific to that date.
Display
Nov 26, 2023 - Dec 02, 2023
  • Jan 23, 2023 - Jan 29, 2023
  • Jan 29, 2023 - Feb 04, 2023
  • Feb 13, 2023 - Feb 19, 2023
  • Feb 19, 2023 - Feb 25, 2023
  • Nov 06, 2023 - Nov 12, 2023
  • Nov 12, 2023 - Nov 18, 2023
  • Nov 26, 2023 - Dec 02, 2023
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.
2 nights
Tucson
Start each day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy classic American dishes in The Garden Grille & Bar restaurant. Grab snacks from the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience store. Keep up with work in the Business Center, which offers printing and photocopying access, or host a conference in the 4,488 sq. ft. Santa Rita room for up to 250 guests. Swim laps in the beautiful outdoor swimming pool with a lazy river and whirlpool for the whole family to enjoy, or work out in the fitness center with cardio machines and weights. To keep fit in the comfort of your own room, borrow a Stay Fit Kit® from reception.
4 nights
Ajo
The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is located in Ajo, Arizona, a former copper mining town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly two hours from Tucson and just 15 minutes from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Center is ideally located for a learning adventure in the spectacular Sonoran Desert. Ajo’s historic town center was designed in 1914 by the firm Kenyon & Maine at the behest of John Greenway, the first owner of the New Cornelia Copper Mine. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement, Greenway and his partners sought to design a town that would keep mine workers happy and productive. More than a century later and 30 years after the closure of the mine in 1985, the stunning Spanish Colonial architecture has been preserved and the arcaded town plaza is a vibrant center of community activity. A highlight of the Ajo town center is the Curley School Campus, an unmissable landmark. The school closed in 1995, when a new K-12 campus opened across town. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance purchased the property and converted two of its three main buildings – the stately 1919 main building and the “J-wing” - into the Curley School Artisan Apartments, putting Ajo on the map as a center of creativity and artistic endeavor. In 2011, ISDA began renovations on the third school building, an elementary annex added in 1940s, to transform it into the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. Architect Rob Paulus of Tucson came up with the design, which we call “Southwest Industrial”. The aesthetic elegantly blends the heritage of the building and the spirit of the region, retaining original school features and complementing them with warm tones, mountain views, and desert landscaping.





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