Field Trips

All ten field trips are scheduled for Monday, March 5. Trips are limited in the number of people that can participate. Participants must be registered beforehand. Please register for only one field trip per person!

Details on when and where to meet, what to bring, transportation and level of difficulty have been added to each field trip.  Please make sure you've selected the right field trip for your physical abilities--you can still make registration changes.

1. The Archaeology at Chico Shunie and Turtle Valley, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

Visit the historic Hia-Ced O’odham village and floodwater farming sites, prehistoric petroglyphs, and an area with the remains of more than 400 mineralized tortoises.

  • Where to meet? Cabeza Prieta parking lot
  • What time?  9:00 AM
  • How long is the field trip? You will return to Ajo around 4:00 PM
  • What to wear?  Hat, sturdy shoes, sun protection
  • What to bring along? The usual for a day in the desert. Water, lunch, walking stick…
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy to moderate. For those wishing to visit Turtle Valley you will need to walk approximately 2 miles and climb in and out of a wash.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required? Yes
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required? No
  • More details:  Carpooling will be mandatory.

2. The Archaeology at Lago Seco, Barry M. Goldwater Range East

Visit Lago Seco, an ancient hub of shell, salt, and obsidian trading—an artifact-rich archaeological site around a dry lake bed.

  • Where to meet?  In front of the Curley School -- 201 Esperanza Ave
  • What time? 8:30 AM
  • How long is the field trip?  You will return to Ajo around 3:00 PM
  • What to wear?  Sturdy walking shoes, light jacket/windbreaker, brimmed hat or visor cap, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • What to bring along?  Lunch, camera and GPS if desired.   Water will be provided and ice chests will be available to store lunches, etc
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy – the ground is nearly flat
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?   Not required, but is preferred
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required? No
  • More detailed description   Lago Seco (Dry Lake) was discovered in 1978 prior to the construction of a new road. It is perhaps the largest and most artifact-rich archaeological site in all of southwestern Arizona.bCovering an area of over 1 km by 2 km, the site is located within the sand dunes and gravel-capped low ridges that surround the now dry lake or playa. Pottery of at least three archaeological cultures is present along with large amounts of marine shell artifacts that include bracelets, pendants, beads, and manufacturing debris. The site, which was occupied between A.D. 1050-1450, was the hub in the trade, exchange, and distribution of shell and salt from the Sea of Cortez and obsidian from nearby Sauceda Mountains.
  • Transportation: The Air Force will have one vehicle with room for four people. Participants are encouraged to carpool—a high profile vehicle (not a 4 x 4) is preferable but not necessary.
  • Special considerations:  This tour is offered once a year because the site is located in an active military operations area that is closed to the public. Participants will be required to sign a hold harmless agreement acknowledging the inherent risks associated with visiting an active military training range.  If you have already been on this field trip, please select another.

3. Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Hike up Alamo canyon visiting historic ranching and homesteading sites, see the difference a north slope and south slope aspect can make in vegetation, walk the riparian areas and see oak/juniper woodlands which are temperate relicts from the last ice age.

  • Where to meet? The Ajo Plaza: Harris & Smith Coffee Shop – last chance to get food and drink.
  • What time?  Depart at 8:00 AM -- Get there earlier if you plan to get coffee. There could be a line.
  • How long is the field trip? For those only going to Alamo Well, we will be done by 11:00 AM (approximately). If continuing to the South Fork, we could go another couple of hours.
  • What to wear?  Hiking boots, hat, and sunscreen
  • What to bring along? Water is essential; lunch, if you plan to stay past noon; binoculars and camera are optional.
  • Level of physical difficulty / physical agility required for this trip?  We will hike one mile along a dirt trail to Alamo Well. Some may continue another quarter mile to the South Fork to see oaks and junipers. This last part is optional and more difficult because it involves hiking over rocks and boulders in the canyon bottom.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?  No
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required? No
  • More details   Peter will discuss Sonoran Desert landscapes and the relict stands of oak and juniper in the Ajo Range. Topics will include the various roles of topography and microclimate in determining the distribution of tropical and temperate plant species on mountain slopes, bajada, and valley floor. We will also talk about the wildlife and cultural resources of the area and the Ecological Monitoring Program.  After we get to Alamo Well, some people might want to continue up the South Fork, others might want to hang out and watch birds, and others might want to depart.
  • Transportation Participants are responsible for their own transportation to the Alamo Canyon trailhead and are encouraged to carpool, of course.  Peter will lead the drive from Ajo to Alamo Canyon and will provide directions at the coffee shop. 

4. Bandeja Well, Bureau of Land Management

Visit Bandeja Well and other well sites in the Ajo area, old range improvements that the BLM purchased and now maintains for wildlife. Learn about the site history, current wildlife usage, and the conversion from wind power to solar power.

  • Where to meet?  In front of the Curley School – 201 Esperanza Ave, Ajo
  • What time?  9:00 AM
  • How long is the field trip?  About 3 hours.
  • What to wear?  Sturdy Shoes
  • What to bring along?  Water
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?  Yes
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required? The road is a little rough in places but a 2-wheel drive vehicle should be fine.  Carpooling will be encouraged.

5. Charlie Bell Well, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

Visit the Charlie Bell Well site where you will see a historic windmill, wildlife tank, and prehistoric petroglyphs.  Includes strenuous hiking (one hour down and 1.5 hours up the west side of Charlie Bell Pass).

  • Where to meet?  Cabeza Prieta Parking Lot – #1611 N 2 Ave (on the west side of Highway 85, north of Ajo)
  • What time?  8:00 AM
  • How long is the field trip?  6 hrs (includes 1 ½hr drive each way and 3 hrs hiking)
  • What to wear?  Good hiking shoes, sunscreen, hat, 
  • What to bring along?  A day pack to carry water and lunch which we will eat in the canyon, walking stick, camera, binoculars
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Walking down into the canyon on an administration road, going down easy, coming back up is ¾mile very steep and is a strenuous hike. The petroglyphs are on a low ridge, with large boulders could be difficult for some people.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?    Yes
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required?  No
  • Transportation: We will be carpooling to the site.  Carpool vehicles can be 2WD but must be high ground clearance.
  • Special considerations: Participants will be required to sign a BMGR-E/CPNWR hold harmless agreement prior to participating in the field trip.  Hold harmless agreements will be available from the field trip leader. 

6. Himdag Ki: Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center and Museum

Visit an extraordinary cultural facility, located in a beautiful and pristine Sonoran Desert environment in view of Baboquivari Peak. Explore museum exhibitions and learn about a modern tribal institution.

  • Where to meet?  In front of the Curley School, 201 Esperanza Ave.
  • What time?  9:30 AM
  • How long is the field trip?    4 ½hours (plus time for lunch in Sells, if you so choose)  This includes 1 ½hour drive from Ajo to Topawa each way and 1 ½hours with guides in the Museum.  You may stay longer if you wish.
  • What to wear?   Comfortable clothing
  • What to bring along?  Water
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?    No
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required?  No
  • Transportation: We suggest carpooling to the Himdag Ki site. Meeting in front of the Curley School at 9:30 will facilitate carpooling arrangements.  If, however, you are starting in Tucson or elsewhere rather than Ajo, you may meet the group at the Cultural Center and Museum at 11:00.
  • Directions: To get to the Cultural Center, drive to Sells.  Take the business loop.  Halfway around the loop, watch for a small green sign pointing south to Topawa.  Drive south approx. 8 miles, watch for a small green sign on your right, alerting you to turn left to the Cultural Center and Museum.  Drive approx. 1 mile on the gravel road to the Center, park in the parking lot and follow the walkway into the Center. 

7. Quitobaquito, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Visit Quitobaquito, a perennial spring located in the southwestern corner of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Quitobaquito has a long, rich history of human occupation and is home to precious natural resources, including two endangered species.

  • Where to meet? Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Visitors Center (36 miles south of Ajo on Highway 85. Watch for the sign on the right – 3 miles north of the US/Mexico border. About a 40-minute drive from Ajo.)
  • What time?  8:00 AM -- outside the Visitors Center
  • How long is the field trip?  The trip will last between three to four hours. Expect to be back at the Visitors Center around noon.
  • What to wear? A hat, walking shoes, comfortable clothing. 
  • What to bring along? Water for up to four hours in the desert, a snack, and a camera.
  • Level of physical difficulty? Easy
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required? No, although the road is bumpy in places. 
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required? No.
  • Additional information:  Please prepare for a four-hour round trip leaving from the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument visitor's center. You will need walking shoes, a hat, water, and a snack. There are no amenities at Quitobaquito, including toilets or potable water. To reach Quitobaquito we will travel about an hour down a bumpy dirt road.  The tour will include an easy walk over flat terrain within yards of the international border; the presentation will last about an hour with some extra time for exploring, photography, and snacks. 

8. Senita Basin, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Follow old wagon roads on a 3-mile stroll into Senita Basin between the Puerto Blanco and Sonoyta Mountains. Experience a place where three species of columnar cacti grow together, providing an extraordinary example of a tropical Sonoran Desert. 

  • Where to meet:? Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Visitors Center (36 miles south of Ajo on Highway 85. Watch for the sign on the right at mile marker 75 (about a 40-minute drive from Ajo).
  • What time? 8:00 AM  [Note change -- was originally 7:00 AM, now 8:00 AM]
  • How long is the field trip? Anticipate returning to the Organ Pipe Visitor Center by noon.
  • What to wear?  Normal desert gear ...
  • What to bring along? Snacks, water, sunscreen ...
  • Level of physical difficulty? Fairly easy 3-mile hike, pending interests, might do an off-trail excursion to see historic sites which could entail moderate climbing over steep and loose-rock terrain.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?  No, but the road can be rough.
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required?  No
  • More details: Participants will meet at the park's visitor center parking lot and caravan to Senita Basin. The parking at Senita Basin is limited and if there is a full group, participants will be encouraged to carpool. The drive to Senita Basin is approximately 35-45 minutes and the road can be rough at times, therefore, larger vehicles are recommended but not required, low clearance vehicles may have to drive slowly. Group size limited to 15 participants. Topics of discussion will be relevant to the interests of the participants. 

9. Sierra Pinacate BOTANY Tour, Pinacate Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)

Explore the eastern side of Sierra Pinacate with a professional botanist, visiting the stunning Elegante and Cerro Colorado craters and the Tecolote lava field while observing and discussing extraordinary plants and volcanic landscapes. 

  • Where to meet?  In front of the Curley School -- 201 Esperanza Ave
  • What time: 7:45 AM
  • How long is the field trip?  You will return to Ajo by 5:00 PM
  • What to wear?  Sturdy walking shoes, light jacket/windbreaker, brimmed hat or visor cap, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • What to bring along?  Passport, Water, Lunch, snacks, and walking stick and camera if desired.  
  • Level of physical difficulty?  This is a long field trip and includes walking over uneven ground.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?   Not required, but is preferred
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required? No
  • Transportation:  Participants must carpool. At least 4 participants need to drive their own vehicles. A high clearance vehicle is preferable although not required. These drivers need to obtain Mexican Insurance on their vehicles for March 5 if they don’t already have a policy (Mexican insurance can be purchased at several venues in Ajo, or at the Why Not Travel store in Why).  Drivers should feel free to ask others riding in their vehicles to chip in for the cost. We will connect participants by email ahead of the field trip.

10. Sierra Pinacate PHOTOGRAPHY Tour, Pinacate Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)

Explore the western side of Sierra Pinacate with a professional photographer. Retrace the 1907 MacDougal/Hornaday Expedition's route, going near Sierra Hornaday, through MacDougal Pass to see the MacDougal, Trebol, and Sykes craters as well as Papago Tanks.

  • Where to meet: In front of the Curley School -- 201 Esperanza Ave
  • What time: 7:45 AM
  • How long is the field trip?You will return to Ajo by 6:00 PM
  • What to wear?  Sturdy walking shoes, light jacket/windbreaker, brimmed hat or visor cap, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • What to bring along   Passport, Water, Lunch, snacks, and walking stick and camera.  
  • Level of physical difficulty?  This is a long field trip and includes walking over uneven ground.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?   YES
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required? YES
  • Transportation:  Participants must carpool.  At least 4 participants need to drive their own vehicles. Vehicles need to be high-clearance and 4-wheel drive. These drivers need to obtain Mexican Insurance on their vehicles for March 5 if they don’t already have a policy (Mexican insurance can be purchased at several venues in Ajo, or at the Why Not Travel store in Why).  Drivers should feel free to ask others riding in their vehicles to chip in for the cost.

 

Eventbrite - 4th Tri-National Symposium: Past, Present & Future of the Sonoran Desert