Saguaro cacti at Gates Pass outside of Tucson Arizona
Saguaro cacti at Gates Pass outside of Tucson Arizona

GEO 385/585 (3 credits) This field course typically occurs every other year during Valpo’s Spring Break. Tucson, Arizona serves as home base for the week. Each day, the physical landscape of the Sonoran Desert Community — the cacti, the desert trees and shrubs, and the animals — is studied at the following sites only an hour from Tucson:

The Arizona-Sonora Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Museum

In lushness and variety of life, the Sonoran Desert far surpasses all other North American deserts. The plants and animals able to survive in this environment make up one of the most interesting and unusual collections of life in the United States.

he Sonoran Desert teems with life.
The Sonoran Desert teems with life.

Be aware: the course requires considerable walking at high elevations. Sometimes the heat is extreme, and there is no water available along most trails. You need to be cautious of painful encounters with cacti, such as the cholla cactus spines, that can become embedded in your skin with just the slightest touch. Also, you need to avoid encountering poisonous rattlesnakes, scorpions, or Gila monsters.

Besides these encounters, a research paper on an aspect of the desert environment will be also required.

Trip cost includes ground transportation from Valparaiso to Chicago and back, van rental costs to airport and around Tucson, hotel for one week (four persons per room), and all park fees. You will need to pay for food and your plane ticket.

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