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Cool Summer Nights - Open till 10:00 p.m. Saturday
May 18 - August 31, 2019

Regular Admission Rates Apply

Familes enjoying the treehouse at dusk
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

Guests under floodlit canopy in the Desert Garden
Photo credit: Rhonda Spencer

Children using black lights to search for scorpions in rock wall
Photo credit: Rhonda Spencer

The Desert Museum is lovely during the day, but it’s even cooler after dark! Join us every Saturday night through August 31 to beat the summer heat while learning something neat! The desert comes alive at night as nocturnal animals awake. Bats perform aerial acrobatics in pursuit of dinner, beavers splash around in their pond, and scorpions glow green under black light. Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, feel the touch of a stingray, or participate in special nightly activities. See the schedule below for weekly themes.

Dining options

The Mountain House Gift Shop (near the entrance) is open until 10:00 p.m., and the Ironwood Gift Shop (near the restaurant complex) is open until 9:30 p.m.

Pro tip? Arrive early for the best parking!

Some exhibits close early for safety reasons or so that the animals can rest. The Walk-in Aviary, Hummingbird Aviary, Desert Loop Trail (coyote, javelina), Botanical Gardens, Bee Exhibit, People & Pollinators, and the Labyrinth Garden close at the following seasonal times:

Mother and child in pushchair, walking the grounds
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

Weekly Themes & Activity Schedule

Activity schedules subject to additions and changes — check back often for the latest updates!

(See previous Saturday schedules)

July 20 — Explore Outdoors!

Explore outdoors graphic

Summer nights are always a great time to discover desert wonders. But we need to be prepared for summer conditions in southern Arizona. Learn more from our partners: Sky Island Alliance, Coronado Outdoors, Arizona Conservation Corps, Conservation Legacy, Nothern Jaguar Project, Cooper Center, and University of Arizona Skin Cancer Institute. Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy presentations from Ralph Wetmore, the University of Arizona's Lunar & Planetary Lab, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:30 p.m. Desert Electric — Lightning Photography
(one 45-minute presentation)
Ralph Wetmore has spent over 40 years chasing and photographing lightning. His presentation will focus on our incredible Arizona storms — the beauty, thrills and the dangers.
8:00 p.m. Celebrating 50 years: Apollo 11 Moon Landing
What it's Like to Send a NASA Mission to the Moon, and Where to Go If You Did
(one 45-minute presentation)

Amanda Stadermann is a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in the University of Arizona. She investigates geologic processes on the Moon using multiple techniques, from atomic to kilometer scales. In particular, she likes igneous rocks and impact cratering, and she investigates these with data from a satellite orbiting the Moon and by looking at Apollo samples.

Tonight she will talk about the top places to send a spacecraft to the Moon's surface, and why they're so important to scientists. Then she will take a dive into one particular potential mission, Moon Diver, that will investigate a lava tube skylight.

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Ideas to Explore Outdoors
Visit some of our local outdoor conservation community partners to learn fun and educational ways you can explore outdoors.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Community Partners

Coronado Outdoors Conservation Legacy Arizona Conservation Corps Northern Jaguar Project Sky Island Alliance Cooper Center University of Arizona Skin Cancer Institute UA LPL

Interested in Learning More?

University of Arizona Moonfest

Check out Moonfest, the UA’s collection of events and exhibits to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!


July 27 — Insect Insanity

Insect Insanity graphic

The Sonoran Desert is a major hot spot for insect diversity! Join the Desert Museum for Insect Insanity to celebrate interesting insects and amazing arthropods! Take selfies with moths and butterflies, try a cricket infused treat, craft your own antennae, get up close and personal with our favorite insects, and learn from the "Beetlelady" why bugs are for everyone! Don't forget to scamper over to Packrat Playhouse to enjoy insect-themed art activities!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

August 3 — Harry Otter Night

Harry Otter graphic

Calling all witches and wizards! Grab your favorite broom and fly into the Desert Museum for our first Harry Otter Night! Looking for fantastic beasts? This is where to find them! Meet live owls, snakes, salamanders, tarantulas, and more! Dust off your finest robes and house colors so you can win the Costume Contest! Professors will be there to sort you into your house while Bookmans will help you craft your very own wand (while supplies last)! Looking to ace Herbology next year? EcoGro will tell you all about magical and mystical plants. You can even pot your own! Enjoy story time, stargazing, potions, a scavenger hunt, and more! We will also have a pensieve to peer into so you can relive memories at the Desert Museum! The first 50 kids at the gate will receive their very own pair of Harry Potter glasses! Invisibility cloaks will be checked at the door.

Please note: Masks and fully painted faces are strictly prohibited. For child safety, adults may only wear themed apparel, or limited costume pieces.

Harry Otter Night is not endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported directly or indirectly by Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Harry Potter book publishers, or J.K. Rowling and her representatives. HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks and © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Harry Potter publishing Rights © JKR.

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Get Your Own Lightning Scar!
5:30 & 6:30 p.m. Animal Enrichment
6:00 - 6:30 p.m. Story Time with Professor S.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Meet & Greet with Owls
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Photobooth
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stargazing
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Potions with Brain STEM
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fantastic Beasts Scavenger Hunt and Wizard Photo Op
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Create Your Own Acceptance Letter
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Make Your Own Wand & Trivia with Bookmans
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Pot A Plant ($) & Herbology Class with EcoGro
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Peer into the Pensieve
6:30 - 9:00 p.m. Sorting Hat with Professor S.
6:45 - 7:15 p.m. Costume Contest
7:00 - 7:15 p.m. Animal Enrichment
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. Meet & Greet with a snake, tarantula, salamander, scorpion

Community Partners

Eco Gro Brain STEM Arizona Bookmans

August 10 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

August 17 — Gastronomy Night / Teacher Appreciation Night

Gastronomy / Teacher Appreciation graphic

We know that teachers go above and beyond every day to ensure the best future for our children and our environment. We are fortunate to have dedicated teachers, like you, in our community. Please join us at Teacher Appreciation Night, and help us celebrate you!

The Desert Museum is a wonderful place to bone up on biology, rock out with geology, and take off with astronomy! Spend time with our animated animals and enjoy conversations with other educators underneath a stunning sunset.

Teachers will receive free admission and 10% off in our gift shops with a teacher ID*. Desert Museum staff and other community education programs will showcase 2019-19 offerings. Plus, books and posters from the Desert Museum's backlist will be available free to teachers! No pre-registration is necessary.

*If your school does not issue ID badges, please bring a letter on school letterhead from your principal or other administrator stating that you are a teacher.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

August 24 — Creatures of the Night

The Sonoran Desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark at Creatures of the Night! Enjoy our latest art exhibit, crawl and climb in Packrat Playhouse, sip on a specialty cocktail under the stars, feel the touch of the stingray, engage with our animals, enjoy a Live and (sort of) on the Loose show, and more!

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off, and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
(two 45-minute presentations)
Join staff members from the Herpetology Department for a live animal presentation featuring venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert Region.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

August 31 — Bat Night

Bat Night graphic

Come celebrate the only flying mammals- bats! The night will be filled with fun, educational activities, talks, and crafts designed to help you better appreciate these winged wonders.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. The Natural World of Guy Coheleach
Have a creative critter of your own? Cool off in the Ironwood Gallery and enjoy our guest area where children of all ages can create their own Big Cats masterpiece! Guy Coheleach’s extensive traveling has given him unique up close and personal experiences with animals resulting in a deep understanding of nature. Guy’s recent work reflects his years of experience observing animals in the wild.
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Find the Elusive Bat Girl!
The first clue of this scavenger hunt is available at the front entrance. Follow all the clues to get the special code word and she will have some special prizes (one per child — while supplies last).
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Batty Activities
Join Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation to explore the fascinating lives of bats through varied hands-on activities for children, families, and educators. Celebrate these mammals for the superheroes they truly are!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Family Art Activities
Families come and go as they please. Multiple kinds of bat-related crafts, including masks, coloring pages, and TP roll bats!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Get down with your Bat-Selfie
Take a selfie with batty backdrop and bat photo props. Volunteer at site to assist with pics as needed.
8:00 p.m. Basically Bats
Come to an engaging presentation by a bat enthusiast all about the biology, myths, and misunderstandings about bats.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!

Couple observing the sunset
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

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