Growing up in Arizona I’ve had the opportunity to see the natural desert my entire life. Saguaros, tumbleweeds, lizards, scorpions, and rattlesnakes are all part of my everyday surroundings. I didn’t really appreciate all the beauty in my natural surroundings until I started exploring photography and getting comfortable behind my camera. Today, being in the quiet desert with a camera, is one of my favorite places to wind down. Last week my daughter and husband came with me to Usery Mountain Regional Park for a photography opportunity.
The Maricopa County park covers just over 3,600 acres and has a large variety of plants and animals in their natural environment. Hiking trails, picnic areas, and play parks are just a few of the reasons why I love visiting.
My cousin and his band brought their instruments out into the desert for amazing photos. As the photo shoot was ending, dark grey clouds were rolling in. There’s something magical about the smell of rain in the desert.
I wrapped up the session and our family headed over to the nearby nature center at the park. Just as we were driving into the parking lot, my daughter noticed a beautiful double rainbow. We knew the rain was coming so we hurried inside.
The nature center is located near the entrance of the park. It is full of amazing educational opportunities and plenty of Arizona keepsakes for those visiting from out of state. Each month experience rangers lead a series of educational programs at the park. This month’s first featured program was the animal flashlight walk. We didn’t quite make it to the evening walk because my daughter was exhausted after a fun day in the desert but we were able to stay and listen to the lecture portion of the event. We enjoyed a fun and informative session about coyotes. Then we observed the onsite critters. Seeing the active snake, tarantula, and scorpion was definitely my daughter’s favorite part of the day.
Just before we were leaving, my husband captured some amazing photos of the bright rainbow behind a tall cactus.
The wind and rain really picked up as we hurried to our car. My daughter asked to open the top of our sunroof to watch the raindrops fall above us. Watching the rain in our car with my husband and daughter was a perfect family moment.
This month the Usery Mountain Regional Park is featuring quite a few different interactive educational opportunities with experienced rangers.
My family will definitely be attending a few of the educational opportunities to learn more about the Arizona desert!
Usery Mountain Regional Park May 2013 Calendar of Events
5/15 10:00 am - ”Just for Kids” Storytime in the Desert - kids will learn about the desert through a fun story, game, and a short nature walk
5/17 12:00 pm - All About Cactuses - one hour presentation about cactus
5/18 7:00 pm - Venomous Reptiles – Live! - exciting presentation of live venomous reptiles
5/22 12:00 pm - All About Wolves - one hour presentation about wolves
5/24 7:30 pm - Full Moon Hike - two mile hike under the glowing light of the moon
5/25 9:00 am - Archery 202 - archery class for participants that have completed Archery 101 course
5/31 6:30 pm - All About Scorpions - one hour presentation about scorpions
5/31 8:00 pm - Scorpion Hunt (first one of the year) - one hour/one milk walk searching for scorpions with black lights
There is a $6 per car fee to visit the park and/or educational events.
Which event sounds like the most fun for your family?