Field Trips

If you are interested in attending or leading a trip, make sure you choose your preference during the registration sign-up process. There are waiting lists for field trips; you can expect to receive notification by the close of registration of your final selection. The Conference Site Coordinator will be in touch with any further logistics.

Transportation costs and light snacks (granola bars, limited bottled water) are included in the price.

Please plan to dress appropriately for the climate and remember to stay hydrated. Bring your own bottle of water along to avoid dehydration. Wear sunscreen and comfortable clothing and shoes; hats are advisable.

Kartchner Caverns is a stunning limestone cave in southeastern Arizona that contains many world-class features that have been protected since the cave was discovered in 1974. Surveyed at 2.4 miles long, it is a wet, “live” cave. Water percolates from the surface and calcite features continue to grow inside. During the 1-1/2-hour, half-mile-long tour of the Rotunda/Throne room, you’ll see dynamic structures such as stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground, sometimes meeting to form a massive column, such as “Kubla Khan,” the largest column formation in the state. The park includes a Discovery Center which houses world-class exhibits, gift shop, regional displays, and information about the caverns and surrounding landscape.

Cost: $38

Get out of the heat and into the cool woods with one of the University of Arizona’s renowned ecologists. The Santa Catalina Mountains—the location of two large wildfires in the last two decades—rise almost 7,000 feet above Tucson. Learn about fire-climate relationships and restoration ecology on this trip spanning ecological life zones from the Sonoran Desert to subalpine forest. It’s like driving from Mexico to Canada in 30 miles.

Cost: $25

The historic San Xavier Mission and the University of Arizona’s Compost Cats operation are both located in the San Xavier district of the Tohono O’odham Nation, just 15 minutes from campus at the edge of Tucson.  San Xavier Mission is a historic Spanish Catholic mission founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary Padre Eusebio Kino in a centuries-old Indian settlement of the Tohono O’odham along the banks of the Santa Cruz River.  The historic church is widely considered the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States and continues today as an active Catholic church as well as pilgrimage site.  Nearby, on the tribal-operated San Xavier Cooperative Farm, the University of Arizona Compost Cats operate a student-run municipal-scale composting operation, composting nearly 5 million pounds of food waste annually from over 50 Tucson area grocery stores and restaurants as well as University of Arizona campus.  Join us for a tour of both the Mission and the Compost Cats operation, as well as a conversation with Compost Cats students regarding their efforts.

Cost: $30

Tucson was designated a World City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2015. Experience what makes Tucson’s food culture so unique! The tour will take you to: 1) Mission Gardens – a re-creation (on the original site) of the Spanish Colonial walled garden that was part of Tucson’s historic San Agustin Mission.  The Garden features heirloom Sonoran Desert-adapted fruit orchards and vegetable gardens interpreting 4,000 years of agriculture in Tucson; 2) the San Agustin Mercado, which supports local business entrepreneurs with a focus on local foods and artisan-made goods. We’ll visit La Estrella Bakery, which specializes in pastries, breads, cookies, and tortillas that highlight the sweet side, south of the border; and 3) Manzo Elementary School, which features an on-site garden, greenhouse, and animal habitat as the centerpiece of its hands-on, project-based learning approach to education. Manzo was also awarded the Best Green School of 2012 by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools.

Cost: $30

Join us for an in-depth exploration of Tucson’s success in transitioning from once being the largest city in the country completely dependent on groundwater to a community that prides itself in now having a renewable and resilient water supply. Tucson Water hydrologists will describe the operation and use of spreading basins in Avra Valley to store Tucson Water’s annual 144,191 acre-feet allocation from the Colorado River, delivered by the Central Arizona Project via a 336-mile canal across Arizona. This tour will feature the largest Tucson Water recharge basin at the Southern Avra Storage and Recovery Project (SAVSARP) and include a viewing of SAVSARP’s 8.5-million gallon underground reservoir, underground collector lines, and booster station. If time permits we will also do a drive around the entire 9-basin facility and stop at a production well.

Cost: $25 ranks The Desert Museum as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country. It is also the number one tourist attraction in Tucson. This natural history museum provides a vibrant, outdoor experience with live animals of the region and features botanical gardens and outstanding views unique to the Sonoran Desert. The visit will include a welcome and short discussion by the Museum’s Director of Conservation, Education and Science, Dr. Deborah Colodner.  It will also include an overview of critical water management issues in both the Sonoran and the Chihuahuan Deserts as well as a two-hour customized tour led by docents. This will include a focus on how educational efforts by the museum staff could inform the development of university-scale curricula.

Cost: $55.50

The Tucson Emerging 2030 District is a private-public-nonprofit collaborative working to create groundbreaking high performance building districts in Tucson that aim to dramatically reduce energy and water consumption as well as climate-changing emissions from transportation. By adopting these three performance targets set forth in Architecture 2030’s national Challenge for Planning, the Tucson Emerging 2030 District, like those in other cities, seeks to demonstrate that high performing buildings can be the most valuable and economical buildings in the region. This tour will visit five such buildings in downtown Tucson, including the YWCA, National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade, Pima County Public Works, Hotel Congress, and the Historic Y, as well as noting LEED-certified buildings such as the Tucson Modern Streetcar maintenance facility, Mercado San Agustin, Tucson Electric Power, the central fire station, and Pima Association of Governments.

Cost: $25

Join us as we explore one of the most amazing man-made wonders of the world: Biosphere2. Covering three acres of high desert scrubland about an hour north of Tucson, this large-scale scientific research venue contains a variety of ecosystems, including a tropical saltwater ocean, rainforest, savanna, salt-water marsh, and coastal fog desert. Don’t worry; you won’t be sealed inside like scientists were in the early 1990s. You’ll get a chance to tour “under the glass” and come back out again to tell others how Biosphere2 is leading the way in addressing global challenges related to water, environmental, and energy management through the design of large-scale experiments in these model ecosystems.

Cost: $40