Field Trips

All thirteen field trips are scheduled for Monday, March 9, 2020. Trips are limited in the number of people that can participate. Participants must be registered beforehand. All trips run concurrently, so 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 as needed. None of the trips include lunch, so please plan to bring your own.

All field trips are free. Symposium registrants should have received a direct link for trip registration with their order confirmation. To register for a trip directly, visit the Eventbrite page here

1. Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Hike one mile to Alamo Well, passing historic ranching and homesteading sites, and see differences in vegetation on north and south-facing slopes and canyon bottom. Optionally, hike another quarter mile in the rugged canyon bottom to see oaks and junipers--temperate relicts from the last ice age.

  • Where to meet? The 'Why Not Travel Store' at the intersection of AZ 85 and AZ 86 (~10 miles south of Ajo)
  • What time?  8:00 AM
  • What to wear?  Hat, hiking boots, sun protection
  • What to bring along? The usual for a day in the desert. Day pack, water, lunch, walking stick…
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy to moderate.
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required? No, but vehicles with particularly low clearance are not recommended
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required? No
  • Transportation:  Parking is limited, so carpooling is required.

2. 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 Visitor Center in Ajo
  • What time?  8:00 AM
  • What to wear?  Hat, sturdy shoes, sun protection
  • What to bring along? The usual for a day in the desert. Day pack, 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
  • Transportation:  Carpooling will be required.
  • 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.

3. Manned Ranged 2, Barry M. Goldwater Range East Canceled

View F16 and/or A10 weapons training which may include inert (training) bombs, rockets and low/high level strafe.

  • Where to meet? Range 2 Gate on AZ 85 north of Ajo (mile marker 22.7)
  • What time? TBD by Range Staff, Registrants will receive an email the Friday before the trip.
  • What to wear?   Hat, sturdy shoes, sun protection
  • What to bring along?  Water and lunch
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?   No.
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required? No
  • Transportation:  Carpooling is encouraged

4. U.S. Border Patrol and Lukeville Port of Entry

This tour includes opportunities to better understand U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Tour activities will include: a guided tour of the Ajo Border Patrol Station, a Border Patrol 101 information session and a guided tour of the Lukeville Port of Entry.

  • Where to meet? U.S. Border Patrol Ajo Station
  • What time?  9:00 AM
  • What to wear?  Comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes, hat and sunscreen
  • What to bring along? Water and lunch.
  • Level of physical difficulty? This trip will be generally limited to fully accessible facilities
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?  No
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required? No 
  • Special Considerations: Attendees will be required to submit supplementary personal identifying information for a security review prior to attending this trip. The trip leader will contact participants directly. 
  • Transportation:  Carpooling is encouraged

5. Buterfield Trail, Bureau of Land Management - Sonoran Desert National Monument

Join some Bureau of Land Management specialists for a tour of the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) , featuring presentations on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, the Butterfield Stage Route, wildlife , grazing, and recreation. The tour will treat attendees to an early spring view of the Sonoran Desert, the Butterfield Pass area, and management of the SDNM.

  • Where to meet?  Historic Ajo Plaza Train Depot - Ajo Visitor Center
  • What time?  8:00 AM
  • What to wear?  Hat, sturdy shoes, sun protection
  • What to bring along?  The usual for a day in the desert. Day pack, water, lunch, walking stick…
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?  No
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required? No
  • Transportation: BLM staff will provide transportation. Personal vehicles can be parked at the Ajo Plaza for the day as needed.

6. 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 and sites. Includes strenuous hiking (one hour down and 1.5 hours up the west side of Charlie Bell Pass).

  • Where to meet?  Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center in Ajo
  • What time?  8:00 AM
  • 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. 

7. Highlights of Historic Ajo

Tour historic sites around beautiful Ajo via golf cart with local guides and docents. Tour includes stops at the Train Depot (Visitor Center), Ajo Plaza, Curley School, Mine overlook and the Historical Society Museum located in St. Catherine's Mission.

  • Where to meet?  Historic Ajo Plaza Train Depot - Ajo Visitor Center
  • What time?  9:30 AM
  • What to wear?   Comfortable clothing
  • What to bring along?  Lunch and water
  • Level of physical difficulty?  Easy
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?    No
  • Is a 4-wheel  drive vehicle required?  No
  • Transportation: Golf carts will be provided for this tour. Personal vehicles can be left in the Ajo Plaza as needed.

8. 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. - Street Parking on either Esperanza Ave. or Vananda Ave.
  • What time?  9:00 AM
  • What to wear?   Comfortable clothing
  • What to bring along?  Lunch and water
  • Level of physical difficulty?  This trip will be generally limited to fully accessible facilities
  • 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 9:00 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 10:30.
  • 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. 

9. 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? Kris Eggle Visitor Center, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (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?  8:30 AM -- outside the Visitors Center
  • What to wear? A hat, walking shoes, comfortable clothing. 
  • What to bring along? Water for up to four hours in the desert, a pack lunch, 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.
  • Transportation: We will be carpooling to the site.
  • 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 lunch. 

10. Senita Basin, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Follow old mining 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:? Kris Eggle Visitor Center, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (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
  • What to wear?  Hat, sturdy shoes, sun protection
  • What to bring along? Day pack, lunch, 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
  • Additional Information: 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. Topics of discussion will be relevant to the interests of the participants. 

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

Explore the eastern side of Pinacate with professional botanist Richard Felger, visiting the stunning Elegante and Cerro Colorado craters and the Tecolote lava field while observing and discussing extraordinary plants and volcanic landscapes. Located in the Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate. This is an international field trip.

  • Where to meet? In front of the Curley School, 201 Esperanza Ave. - Street Parking on either Esperanza Ave. or Vananda Ave.
  • What time: 7:45 AM
  • What to wear?  Sturdy walking shoes, light jacket/windbreaker, brimmed hat or visor cap, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • What to bring along?  Passport, Water, Lunch, snacks, walking stick, magnifying glass or loupe 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 9 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.
  • Additional Information: This is an international trip. Participants will need to bring a passport or other approved documentation for travel into Mexico and return to the United States.

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

Explore the western side of Sierra Pinacate with, professional photographer Richard Laugharn. Retrace the 1907 MacDougal/Hornaday Expedition's route, going near Sierra Hornaday, through MacDougal Pass to see the MacDougal, Trebos and Sykes craters as well as Papago Tanks. Located in the Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate

  • Where to meet? In front of the Curley School, 201 Esperanza Ave. - Street Parking on either Esperanza Ave. or Vananda Ave.
  • What time: 7:45 AM
  • 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? No, but is preferred
  • Transportation:  Participants must carpool. At least 4 participants need to drive their own vehicles. A high clearance vehicle is required and 4WD is preferred. Drivers should be aware that vehicles will get "pinstriped" with brush, so this is not an ideal trip if you are worried about keeping your paint job looking fresh. These drivers need to obtain Mexican Insurance on their vehicles for March 9 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.
  • Additional Information: This is an international trip. Participants will need to bring a passport or other approved documentation for travel into Mexico and return to the United States.

13. Sonoran Pronghorn Captive Breeding Pen, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

Visit the top of Pack Rat Hill via a ¼ mile hike over a steep rocky trail with the Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Coordinator. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and view Sonoran pronghorn through spotting scopes and binoculars 

  • Where to meet:? Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center in Ajo
  • What time? 7:00 AM
  • What to wear?  Hat, sturdy shoes, sun protection
  • What to bring along? Snacks or pack lunch, water and sunscreen.
  • Level of physical difficulty? Moderate
  • Is a high-clearance vehicle required?  Yes
  • Is a 4-wheel drive vehicle required?  No
  • Transportation: Participants will carpool from the visitor center to the breeding pen.