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

Regular Admission Rates Apply

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.

Skip the Line

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.

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

Weekly Themes & Activity Schedule

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

(See previous Saturday schedules)

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!
Skip the Line
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!

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.


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. Basically Bats
Come learn basic information about bats- what makes them unique, what do they eat, what “facts” are actually myths, and more, in a 45-minute presentation given by Desert Museum animal keeper, Crystal Holcombe.
6:00 - 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. (Bring your own camera!)
7:00 & 8:00 p.m. Tequila Tasting
Enjoy a special guided tasting (45 minutes) with tequila expert, David Suro of Siembra Spirits. Sample fine tequilas while munching on chips and salsa. You will learn all about the history of Mexico’s blue agave and what bats have to do with tequila!
7:00 p.m. Bats Need Agaves!
Across southern Arizona, two species of bats actively forage on agave at night, hunting for sweet nectar instead of a juicy insect. Come learn more from Jason Corbett of Bat Conservation International about these fascinating bats and what is being done to conserve them and their iconic food; agaves.
8:00 p.m. Subterranean Bats
Of Arizona’s 28 species of bats, around half use underground spaces such as caves, mines, cracks, and crevices for roosting, raising their young, or hibernating. How do these bats use these spaces? What are they and how do bats hang upside down? Listen to Jason Corbett of Bat Conservation International as he dives into the dark world of cave roosting 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!
Skip the Line
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!

Pro tip: On Cool Summer Nights, Packrat Playhouse can reach capacity quickly! We suggest that you head there first and sign up for a time slot to guarantee your playtime.


Couple observing the sunset

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