Spotlight on Morning!

by Interpretive Guide, Tarah Rider Berry
There is still time to enjoy the very early morning summer hours at SMEEC. Until September 1, we will continue to open bright and early at 6:30 a.m. and our center is a perfect place to visit after some sunrise exercise. Wildflower season may be over but right now we are seeing Desert Senna in bloom. There are also many Saguaro cacti along the Judith Tunell Upper Challenge Loop trail that are preparing to flower. Here at the Center you are encouraged to make use of any of our field guidebooks that are available in our Dottie Gilbert Reading Room to help you identify many of our native species.

Our Sonoran desert is an ever changing environment and you will see something new every time you come walk our Judith Tunell Trail. Right now the trail is well lit by 5:20 a.m. If you want to start earlier, South Mountain Park’s gates open at five a.m. and a flashlight will help you see the trail more easily until the distant sunrise begins to slowly light up the valley. It is a great time to see wildlife sightings transition from the nocturnal activity of owls, jackrabbits, small bats and desert mice to the early morning wake up calls of doves, rock squirrels and other desert creatures. Judith Tunell trail is a wonderful place to see a great variety of bird species and roadrunner and coyote sightings are fairly common throughout the day.

Come join us at SMEEC for a cold drink, a self-guided gallery tour and learn more about what makes South Mountain Preserve so special. Be sure to pick up a copy of our new Fall Programs schedule and always remember to grab a map and let us suggest a hike that is perfect for you. If you aren’t an early riser, our summer hours also include Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:00-9:00 p.m. September 1, hours will shift to 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.