The Desert & Sea Tour

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The Desert & Sea Tour

Flora, Fauna & Landscape

Enter the heart of the Sonoran desert, one of nature’s most lush desert environments. Travel across the Tohono O’odham Nation, home to the “desert people,” descendants of the pre-historic Hohokam. Visit Ajo, an historic mining town located in saguaro studded hills. Tour by car, van, bike or hike.

Walk among candelabra of cactus at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. With La Ruta guides, take day hikes or camp out under the night sky.

Journey to Reserva del Pinacate. Hundreds of lava flows create an alien moonscape. At Crater Elegante, Cerro Tecolote and Crater Cerro Colorado, the air tingles with the energy of past geologic activity, while Volcano Santa Clara looms on the horizon.

Complete the tour at the Sea of Cortez where the beauty of Puerto Peñasco awaits. You are the guests of CEDO, the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans. CEDO staff take you on an insider tour to learn about tidal pools, ocean life, and the work and vision of CEDO. You may also visit the Earthship, the visitor center built from reclaimed materials which rises on the beach like an otherworldly sand sculpture.

STANDARD ITINERARY – 3 Days, 2 nights

Day 1 – Phoenix or Tucson/Ajo/Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument / Sonoyta / Lukeville / Pinacate

Meet your La Ruta guide in either Phoenix or Tucson and travel across the Sonora Desert to Ajo, Arizona. Along the way, you will cross through the Tohono O’odham Nation, a vast landscape that is home to 11,000 people. By mid-morning you we arrive et a brief introduction to the history and ecology of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands region. While in Ajo, you will stroll through this historic Arizona mining town with its Spanish Colonial style plaza and have a delicious lunch. Following lunch, the tour leaves for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to experience its rich diversity of native plants and animals. Drive scenic roads and hike trails in the Monument before continuing into Sonora, Mexico, and El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve. This is one of the most remote and compelling protected areas in northern Sonora, Mexico. Enjoy the rich archaeological history of the Reserve, which was once home to the San Dieguito culture that inhabited the region 12,000 years ago. Enjoy a late afternoon hike to some of the Pinacate’s volcanic craters where you will experience the overwhelming silence of this almost-lunar surface. The tour also includes a visit to Crater Elegante and a night’s camping under the stars at Tecolote, another of the Reserve’s well-known natural features. What could be more wonderful than enjoying a night under the splendor of the bright night sky?

DAY 2 – Pinacate to Puerto Peñasco

After breakfast in camp, explore more of the lava flows, sandy washes, and the natural desert wonders of the Pinacate. A picnic lunch will be served before leaving the Reserve and traveling the short distance to Puerto Peñasco, one of northern Sonora’s oldest and most famous seaports. Once a sleepy fishing village famous for its shrimp industry, Puerto Peñasco has become a tourism center noted for its beaches and easy living. After checking into the hotel, you will have time to shop the markets or walk the beach. That evening you will dine on local seafood specialties at one of the city’s casual and fun restaurants. Later, gather for an informal talk with a local historian to learn more about the history of this area and discuss the changes this community faces.

DAY 3 – CEDO/Home

This morning is spent at the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO), a field research and education center, located on the shores of the Upper Gulf of California. Local La Ruta hosts will describe the important conservation and research work being done here, and if weather and tides cooperate, escort us on a close-up tide pool tour, a hike, or a kayak tour of the Estero Morua (estuary).

Tidal fluctuations at the northern end of the Gulf of California are as great as found anywhere else on the planet. Tides vary by as much as 20 feet between high and low tides, exposing the rich and unique biodiversity of this desert sea. After a leisurely lunch, it will be time to depart for Tucson or Phoenix and your return trip home.

TOUR PRICE: Tour prices vary depending on date, itinerary, and donation amount contributed to tour sponsor (s).
Double Occupancy: Priced from $599.00/person
Single Supplement: Priced from $659.00


DepartReturnSpecial Event/ItinerarySponsor/Partner
November 26November 28Thanksgiving
Full Moon – High Tides


DepartReturnSpecial Event/ItinerarySponsor/Partner
January 7January 9New moon – High Tides 
February 4March 6Full moon – High TidesTohono Chul Park

La Ruta de Sonora • Phone: 1.800.806.0766 • Email: [email protected]