Soccer practice, piano lessons, scout meeting. Are your kids in a rut when it comes to the same old after-school activities? Try throwing in a little variety. Give them a chance to get outside and explore our native animals and plants (and have some fun too). Take a look at these rousing educational activities for kids at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Trailside Naturalist Stations

Spend Saturday morning with hands-on activities kids ages 3 and above will love. They’ll learn about desert animals. And they can get up-close and personal with the mighty saguaro cactus. We provide everything they’ll need. Kids bring the curiosity. By the way, parents tell us they like the activities too.

Join us at 9:00 most Saturday mornings (October through March) at the Gateway Trailhead. One upcoming event teaches kids how to be snake smart, another gives them a glimpse into the  Predators of the Preserve and how they adapt.

Expedition Days

Looking for a free activity the whole family can do? Take them to Sonoran Discovery Academy’s Expedition Days. You’ll spend the day learning about the desert ecosystem and your place in it. Discover the incredible human history of the desert, interact with live Sonoran Desert animals, and learn what your family can do to help protect this amazing environment.

Our next Expedition Day is Saturday, February 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Lost Dog Wash Trailhead will be transformed into an interactive learning zone. Discover more about mammals, reptiles, geology, archaeology and fire prevention. Who knows, this experience might inspire your child to pursue a STEM career.

Sonoran Sundays

For many, Sunday afternoon is family time. Sonoran Sundays are just the ticket to spend quality time together. We invite partner organizations to bring and talk about native live animals, geology, history, and more.

A recent session showcased rescued owls, hawks and falcons. In February, investigate the  prehistoric village of Pueblo Grande. And in March you’ll learn about the McDowell Mountains from the geologist who co-discovered it’s Marcus Landslide.

Go to our Registration page to reserve your spot and get more information about a specific event. Generally, they’re held on select Sunday afternoons from 3:00 to 4:00 and are suitable for ages 6 and above. A donation of $5.50 is suggested.

Family Educational Hikes

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends kids get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. Here’s a way for kids ages 6 or older to get some exercise and have a unique adventure at the same time.

On select Sunday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00, an experienced guide will take you on a short, informative walk on one of the Preserve’s nature trails. Each hike is different. A recent walk featured scorpions, spiders, bees and wasps. Coming in March, find out how desert plants survive and thrive in the dry heat of the desert.

Change up how your kids spend their free time by taking advantage of family friendly events offered by the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Kids program.  Browse our full list of what’s available on our Calendar of Events. There’s something for everyone.