Tours & Activities
Experience and embrace the magnificent beauty of the desert through a variety of tours and activities at the Desert Botanical Garden that will make your visit unforgettable. The Garden's daily and weekly activities are included with membership or admission, and are designed to accommodated individuals of any age and groups of any size. Audio and private tours are available for an additional fee. Discover the unique tours and activities going on right now at the Garden:
Ask a Gardener*
Saturday and Sunday / February - April / 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday / October - November / 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Want ideas for creating year-round color in your yard and conserving water in the desert? Drop by our Ask a Gardener station where knowledgeable volunteers can help with your gardening questions.
*Sponsored by Tierra Madre Landscape Services.
Garden Flashlight Tours
Thursdays and Saturdays /May 30 - August 31 / 7-9 p.m.
Flashlight tours are a sensory adventure where you will see, hear and feel the desert night. The self-paced stroll along the main trail to a variety of discovery stations is perfect for families and children of all ages. Please bring your own flashlights. Flashlights will also be available for purchase in the Garden Shop until 9 p.m.
NEW THIS YEAR!
Flashlight Tour Birthday Parties
Looking for something adventurous and educational for your child’s birthday this summer? Make your reservation today for a Flashlight Tour birthday party! Recommended for children ages 4 and up. Parties offered on Thursday and Saturday nights only from May 30 through August 31. For pricing and availability, call 480 481.8159.
Desert in the Dark: Girl Scout Badge Program
Program fee: $6 / scout and $6 / chaperone
What is our desert like in the dark? Scouts will experience the Sonoran Desert at night while learning about the stars and nocturnal animals through this self-guided program. Available Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 - 9 p.m., late May through late August. All levels of Girls Scouts are welcome. For more info or to regsiter, click here.
Led by trained Garden Guide experts, docent tours are free for garden members or with paid garden admission, do not require advanced reservations and are perfect for individual guests and families.
Daily / October 1 - May 13 / 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m.
Can you drink water from a cactus? Do century plants really live 100 years? Get your burning questions answered on this docent-led tour and see why our desert plant collection is world-renowned. You will discover how plants survive, and even thrive, under the extreme conditions of the Sonoran Desert. Bring your camera, water, and wear a hat, sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.
Birds in the Garden
Mondays, October – April / 8 a.m.
Mondays, May – September / 7 a.m.
Join expert birders for a morning bird walk along the Garden trails. Everyone is welcome, including first-time birders. Wear a hat, sunscreen and comfortable shoes, and bring binoculars if available.
Included with paid Garden admission or membership.
Lighthearted, fun and informative, self-guided audio tours are available for The Desert Discovery Loop Trail and bring to life our collections of plants. Individual audio tours are available in English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese. A family audio tour of the Desert Discovery Trail is available in English and Spanish.
Download the Garden's Group Tour Packet for a full description of group tours and activities.
The Garden offers the following for groups:
- Discounts on general admission ($13 for Seniors and $15.00 for Adults)
- Group events such as team building, education and entertainment
- Customized tours for groups of 10 or more starting at $20 per person including Garden admission
- Seasonal Marshall Butterfly Pavilion tickets ($2 per person)
- Complimentary admission for bus drivers and tour group operator staff
- Group boxed lunches ($14.75 per person) and group catered breakfasts ($12.95-$20.25)
To Book a Private Group Tour or Activity:
- Contact Katelyn Poulson at 480 481.8104 or email@example.com for a private group tour. Advanced registration will help us give you the best experience possible, register now!
- A minimum of two week advance booking is recommended for all guided group tours self guided group visits can be arranged with as little as 24 hour notice, although advanced notice preferred.
- A minimum of 5 business days advanced booking is recommended for group breakfast and boxed lunch orders; larger groups or special requests may require more notice.
- Special events such as Las Noches de las Luminarias and our concert series have limited numbers of tickets available. Purchase your group discounted tickets early to avoid sell-outs.
Guided Tours & Activities
Desert Discovery Tour / 1 Hour Tour / Minimum of 10 guests
Take the Garden’s main trail and learn the unique characteristics of desert plants from around the world. The loop trail features outstanding displays and exhibits including the Sybil B. Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries and the Berlin Agave Yucca Forest. This tour focuses on desert plant biology where you can explore the great diversity of form, texture and color found in this wondrous array of cacti and succulents from around the world. You will also learn how desert plants are uniquely adapted to survive and thrive in a harsh desert environment.
Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Tour / 1.5 Hours Tour / Minimum of 10 guests
Step off of our main trail onto the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail, which is one of the largest exhibits of its kind dedicated to helping people understand the complex cultural relationships between people and plants in our region. The trail winds through five habitats that have provided people with useful plants for food, fiber, medicine and cultural purposes for 2,000 years: Desert, Desert Oasis, Mesquite Bosque, Semi-desert Grassland, and Chaparral. The story of these relationships is brought to life through cultural examples of the Akimel O’odham and Western Apache Roundhouse which you can explore. Also try hands-on activities such as pounding mesquite beans to make flour. Please note this trail is on a dirt path and requires a large amount of walking.
Birds of the Southwest Tour / 1 Hour Tour / Minimum of 10 guests
The Desert Botanical Garden is home to many birds including the Western Screech Owl, Gila Woodpecker, and Anna’s Hummingbird. As your group strolls through the Garden, the rich notes of the native Curved-billed thrasher echoes along the path while an ever-curious and personable Cactus Wren tags along. This tour focuses on how birds interact with desert plants and is recommended in the early hours of the day.
Spring Wildflower Tour / 1 Hour Tour / Minimum of 10 guests / Available March – May
There is truly nothing like the Sonoran Desert in the Springtime. As the desert explodes with color, stop and view the Mexican poppies, Penstemon, Desert Lupine and many other wildflowers on the Desert Botanical Garden’s exquisite Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail. Learn about pollination and which flowers attract which pollinators. The transformation of the desert into these incredible blooms is a seasonal sight not to be missed!
Flashlight Tour / 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. / Minimum of 10 guests / Available Thursdays and Saturdays in May - September
Join the Garden’s Public Flashlight Tours. Nights in the Desert are anything but dull. Nighthawks fly, night-blooming flowers open, toads sing and owls watch, as you stroll along the trails there is a surprise around each corner. Be ready to be adventurous! You will view critters such as snakes, scorpions, and desert tortoises first hand at our guided stations.
Photographic Safari / 1 Hour Tour & 2 Hour Class / Minimum of 10 guests
Get expert advice on how to improve photographs from a professional photographic instructor. The instructor will share invaluable tips on equipment and techniques the pros use and will take time to individually assist each attendee. Your safari will begin with a short introductory presentation and then you will be taught to create powerful compositions, using the uniquely adapted plants and cacti of the Garden’s collection as subjects. All camera formats (digital, non-digital) are welcome. One instructor per 10-15 people.
Desert Dish Garden Activity & Tour / 1 Hour Tour & 45 Minute Activity / Minimum of 15 guests
After spending a day at the Desert Botanical Garden, your group can take home a little garden of their own in an original hand-thrown pot by local artist, Jim Sudal. Under the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor, your group will construct a cactus or succulent dish garden featuring 3 cacti, while enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the Garden. A plant care sheet and box will be included with each dish garden. We are unable to ship cactus.
Afternoon Tea in the Garden / 1 Hour Tour & 1 Hour Activity / Minimum of 15 guests
Spend a delightful afternoon in the Garden sipping tea and savoring Fabulous Foods’ petite sandwiches and desserts. After tea, stroll the paths with a personal guide while learning about the treasures of the Sonoran Desert. A relaxing and educational experience awaits you here at the Desert Botanical Garden!
Taste of the Southwest Cooking Demo, Lunch & Tour / 2 Hour Activity & 1 Hour Tour / Minimum of 15 guests
Nurture your team with a once in a lifetime Garden dining experience. The stage is set as you enter the Garden with a private guided tour emphasizing ethnobotany and how native plants are used for food, tools, and shelter. You will be led to a private dining location where you will learn how the food is prepared and then savor every bite of a locally sourced garden fresh meal. We can also offer this as a dinner or cooking class variation (price and minimum will differ).
Native Cultures and Plants of the Southwest / 4 Hour Tour & Lunch / Minimum of 10 guests
The Heard Museum, founded in 1929, and the Desert Botanical Garden, founded in 1939, have come together to present a wonderfully insightful Southwest experience acquainting your group with the diversity of the Sonoran Desert and the resourcefulness of the Native people.
This combination tour includes admission to both the Desert Botanical Garden and Heard Museum, as well as an included lunch. Your group has the option to select to have guided tours at either or both museums. Please note that the lunch must be held at the Desert Botanical Garden, and that both museums must be visited in the same day in order to receive the discounted rate.
Music in the Garden Concert Series / Available October – June
Spend a relaxing Friday evening (Fall & Spring Series) or Sunday afternoon (Winter Series) with a group of friends strolling through the Garden and joining us on our scenic Ullman Terrace to listen to the Valley’s premier musicians. Food and Beverages are available during the concerts at the Patio Café for an additional fee.
Blaze Your Own Trail
Self-Guided Group Tour
Self-guided visits are perfect for groups needing flexibility due to time constraints. The Desert Botanical Garden has a multitude of themed trails to choice from to suit your group’s needs.
Desert Botanical Garden is a natural learning environment for students of all ages. Learn more about our field trip programs and view program overviews, fees and other information on our Field Trips & Self Guided Tours page.