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 accommodate individuals of any age and groups of any size. Private tours are available for an additional fee. Discover the unique tours and activities going on right now at the Garden:
Ask a Gardener
Saturdays and Sundays / February - April / 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays / 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.
Garden Flashlight Tours
Thursdays and Saturdays / May 23 – September 5, 2015 (except for July 4, the Garden is closed)
Included with membership or paid Garden admission.
Bring a flashlight and join us for an evening of adventures! Flashlight tours are a sensory experience where you will see, hear and feel the desert night. The self-paced stroll along the Garden’s trails to multiple discovery stations is perfect for families and children of all ages.
Flashlights will also be available for purchase in the Garden Shop.
Led by trained Garden Guide experts, docent talks and activities are free for Garden members or with paid Garden admission, activities do not require advanced reservations and are perfect for individual guests and families.
Daily / October 1 – May 12
Check the Cohn Tour Gathering Area for times.
Explore the Garden with an expert who will help you understand the extraordinary plants of the Sonoran Desert. This docent-led tour guides you past towering saguaros and tiny mammilarias, bizarre boojums and elegant palo verdes. How does such abundant life survive and thrive in the harsh desert? Take a tour and find out. Bring water and a camera, and wear a hat, sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.
Garden Discovery Stations
Available Daily October 1 – May 12
Explore the Garden to find a variety of exciting and informational stops where touching the inside of cactus may actually be encouraged! Let an expert docent answer your burning questions about cacti, mesquite, agave, birds and many other topics that can be found here in the Garden. This is a great way to get a safe hands-on experience with desert plants and learn about the desert around us.
Talks in the Garden
October 1 – May 12 / Check-in at Admissions for times and locations.
Enjoy entertaining, fascinating and educational talks in the Garden that help you understand how such abundant life survives and thrives in the harsh desert. These 20 to 30 minute talks will explore some of the extraordinary plants and ecosystems of the Sonoran Desert.
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.
Daily / Year-round
Keep children interested and engaged with activity sheets as you stroll through the Garden. Stop by the Admissions entrance booths or ask our volunteer Guest Guides for information about how you and your family can learn about desert ecology together.
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.
The Garden offers the following for groups:
To Book a Private Group Tour or Activity:
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.
Desert Discovery Tour with ethnobotany / 1 Hour Tour / Minimum of 10 guests
Taking the same trail as the above Desert Discovery Tour, this tour focuses on people’s interactions with desert plants. Learn the amazing ways people use desert plants for food, tools and shelter. This is our most popular tour and features such plants as saguaros, agave, mesquite, prickly pear, and jojoba as you traverse through the highlights of our collection.
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. 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 three 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.
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.