WHPS Arizona Desert Adventure

Join Expert Jeff Epping on this exploration of the Southwest

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Feb 25 - Mar 2, 2024
7 days | 6 nights • 15 meals
Starting at $2,297

Escape the cold weather next February and join the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society for a fascinating visit to Arizona. We’ll visit iconic southwestern horticultural sites such as the Desert Botanical Garden, Japanese Friendship Garden, Tohono Chul Gardens, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, plus private nurseries and gardens. We’ll also experience Taliesin West, take a tram through Sabino Canyon, explore Biosphere 2, and experience delicious southwest cooking.

Meet Jeff Epping, Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society
Jeff is a plant enthusiast and has been immersed in gardening since he was a kid. Over the years, Jeff has led garden tours guiding travelers to the some of the most prominent gardening meccas in the world. He is especially knowledgeable about environmentally conscious gardens and gardening practices and shares his insights on tours. He's even been known to give mini gardening lectures in the motorcoach between stops.


Blessed with 360 sunny days a year, Arizona offers flora and fauna at its best. Arrive today, and get to know your fellow travelers at our welcome dinner. D

We begin with a tour of Taliesin West, nestled in the McDowell Mountain desert foothills. Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved winter home is connected to the desert, and is considered one of the most personal of the architect’s creation. We’ll next visit the private House of Desert Gardens at the foot of Camelback Mountain. Demonstrating landscape architecture at its finest, its garden galleries showcase an interplay of complementary plant species from around the world. The Arizona desert is home to thousands of species of cactus, trees, and flowers. One of the best places to experience this awesome variety is at the Desert Botanical Garden. Over 50,000 are displayed, including hundreds of endangered species. Later tonight, enjoy dinner at Rustler’s Rooste, situated atop a butte! Once a hideout for cattle rustlers, we’ll enter through a mine shaft and saunter over an indoor waterfall. B, L, D

We begin today with a visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Set against towering Picketpost Mountain, the Arboretum brings together plants from our planet’s many varied deserts and dry lands, displaying them alongside native Sonoran Desert vegetation. Later, one of the world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues hosts us. The Biosphere 2 facility serves as living laboratory where the desert, rainforest, ocean and other ecosystems are monitored and studied. We settle in for the next three evenings at the Embassy Suites in Tucson—where each room is a deluxe two room suite. B, L

This morning we visit Greg Cormon's private garden and studio, featuring wildlife-habitat sculptures and other artistic elements, plus stock tank gardens, mini water features, and a giant crested saguaro. Nearby we’ll tour Alex Heveri’s home filled with her amazing works of glass and steel structures. Alex’s work is currently featured at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. With soaring mountains and deep canyons, the unique plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert welcome us this afternoon on a tram ride through the rocky gorges and spectacular canyons of Sabino Canyon. Tonight we travel “out west” to the Tanque Verde Dude Ranch for a down-home ranch BBQ experience. All the fixn’s welcome us, along with live music, a roaring fire, and an incredible backdrop of the Rincon Mountains. B, L, D

Embrace the authentic beauty of the Sonoran Desert at Tohono Chul, set against the spectacular Santa Catalina Mountains. Named “One of the World’s Ten Best Botanical Gardens” by Travel & Leisure, Tohono Chul offers winding paths past soaring Saguaros, themed gardens and encounters with busy hummingbirds. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, ranked as one of the Top 10 Museums in the Country, is different than most—85% of the experience is outdoors! Besides plant life, 242 animal species are on display, as is one of the world’s most comprehensive mineral. The giant saguaro, our country’s largest cacti, is only found in a small area of the United States. These majestic plants, are a famous symbol of the Southwest and protected by Saguaro National Park, our final visit of the day. Relax tonight with your traveling companions at our hotel's complimentary cocktail reception. B, L

This morning we visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens, home to 5.5 acres and 16 residentially scaled urban gardens. Next we tour Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona’s only working olive farm and mill. Learn first hand how olives are pressed in extra virgin olive oil. This afternoon, we stop at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, an authentic Japanese Stroll Garden with tea garden and tea house. This tranquil setting features 1,500 tons of hand-picked rock, flowing streams, Koi ponds, and several varieties of plants. Tonight we enjoy a relaxing farewell dinner. B, L, D

Say good-bye to our fellow travelers with memories of gorgeous southern Arizona and its colorful plants, flowers, landscapes, and wildlife. B

Quality Accommodations

Nights 1-2: Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport
Nights 3-5: Embassy Suites Tucson East
Night 6:
Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport

Feb 25-March 2, 2024 Sold Out

Price Per Person:
Double $2,297
Single $2,825

Pre-/Post-Tour Hotel:

Phoenix, AZ

Free airport shuttle or hotel parking
Welcome Dinner and meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Fees and tips for included attractions and meals
Luggage handling at most hotels
Free bottled water on coach
24-hour emergency call service

Arrival Time
Our Welcome Dinner on Day 1 is at our hotel Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport will start at 6:30 p.m. We recommend scheduling your flight to arrive by 4:00 p.m.

Departure Time
You may schedule your flight home with flight departure times after breakfast on Day 7. Complimentary breakfast will be offered from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. Plan your return flight home that best fits your schedule.

Airport Transportation / Vehicle Parking
Our starting and ending hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to/from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. If you are driving to the starting location, they also offer complimentary parking for the duration of the tour.

Walking Distance
Moderate walking is required to fully enjoy this tour. Some walking will also be on uneven paths. While walking canes are allowed, we are unable to accommodate travelers using other mobility devices, including walkers and wheelchairs.

Average Temps
February - high of 70°, low of 50°

Time Zone
Mountain Standard Time

Hotel Amenities
Each hotel has a hair dryer, iron, ironing boards, coffee maker and pool

Additional Information
A total of three mailings are sent to assist you in preparing for your tour, including information sent upon receipt of your reservation.

Travel Protection Available?
Yes, see CountryTravelDiscoveries.com/TravelProtectionPlan.

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