Usery Mountain Regional Park events through Jan. 1

(Photo fromhttps://www.facebook.com/UseryMtnPark/photos)

The following events are scheduled at Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road (North Ellsworth Road) in Mesa. Cost is $6 per car. The website is https://www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/usery-mountain-regional-park/:

•Mistletoe in the Desert: 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, mistletoe in the desert – how did it get here? Why is it up in the trees? Discover the close relationship shared between this unique plant and a special little bird. The 1-mile stroll on the Merkle Trail will not only teach about the Sonoran Desert, but will also help get participants in the holiday spirit. Bring water and closed-toe shoes. Location: Area 6.

•Three-Mile Thursday: 8-9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, want to get in shape and stay in shape? Want to meet others who want to do the same? Join for a fun 3 mile/one-hour brisk-pace hike through the scenic desert. Bring water and closed-toe shoes. Location: Trailhead Staging Area.

•Kids Storytime Funtime: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, kids (including parents and caregivers) will learn about the desert through a fun story, game and a short outdoor experience. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after the program at one of the playgrounds in the park. Bring water and closed-toe shoes. Suggested for ages 3-6. Location: Nature Center.

•Home School, These Rocks Rock: 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 22, kids, do you like rocks? Want to find out the names of different rocks? Want to discover what they are made of and how they were made? Come to Usery Park and find out. Geologist AJ Lombard will teach participants some cool things about the rocks they can find in Arizona. This indoor program is designed for kids 7 and up. Location: Nature Center.

•Find the Ranger on the Merkle Trail: 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, walk the Merkle trail and find the park ranger. This fun walk is very easy as the trail is wide, rock-free and mostly level. Ranger B will be somewhere along the trail to answer any questions participants have about the park, desert animals, and desert plants.

•Kids Photo Scavenger Hunt: 10:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, Dec. 23, kids, do you like to take photos? Join to take photos of cool-looking things out in the desert. Afterwards, participants will have fun seeing the photos projected on a large screen inside the Nature Center. This program involves a short desert walk and is designed for ages 7-12. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Bring water and wear closed-toe shoes. Cameras will be provided. Meet at the Nature Center.

•Find the Ranger on the Wind Cave Trail: 9-11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, hike the Wind Cave Trail and find the park ranger. This fun hike is challenging and gives great views of the Valley along the way. Ranger B will be somewhere along the trail to answer any questions participants have about the park, desert animals and desert plants.

•New to Arizona: 10-11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, are you new to Arizona? Are you curious about cactus and scared of snakes? If so, join for an introductory experience to the Sonoran Desert. After a question-and-answer session, participants will take a quarter-mile walk on the scenic Desert Hawk Trail. Bring water and closed-toe shoes. Location: Nature Center.

•Three-Mile Thursday: 8-9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, want to get in shape and stay in shape? Want to meet others who want to do the same? Join for a fun 3 mile/one-hour brisk-pace hike through the scenic desert. Bring water and closed-toe shoes. Location: Trailhead Staging Area.

•Discover the Desert Hawk Trail: 10-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, join desert aficionado Susan Peters on a quarter-mile stroll along the Desert Hawk Trail in search of desert plants, animals, nd whatever else interests participants. Bring questions, water and closed-toe shoes. Location: Nature Center.

•Kids Desert Scavenger Hunt: 2-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, join for a scavenger hunt as participants solve riddles and find things in the desert (using eyes only). Not only will they have a lot of fun but they will also learn amazing things about the desert plants and animals. The 1-mile Merkle Trail offers universal access and the hard-smooth surface of the trail will accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Bring water and closed-toe shoes. Meet at Area 6.

•Hike the Wind Cave Trail: 8-10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 29, why is the hike up to Wind Cave such a popular hike? Join us and find out. This difficult, 3-mile round-trip hike gains over 800 feet in elevation and presents some of the most spectacular scenery in the Valley. Bring water, hats, snacks, and closed-toe shoes. Meet at the Wind Cave Trailhead.

•All About Rattlesnakes: 6-7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, how dangerous are rattlesnakes? What should one do if he or she encounters one? How do they survive and thrive in the desert? Discover the answers to these questions and more in a one-hour presentation. Join inside the Nature Center as Ranger B shares amazing facts about these misunderstood reptiles. Watch rangers feed the snakes after the program at 7 p.m. Then join the “Night Safari” at 7:30 p.m. at no extra cost.

•Night Safari: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, what are the wild animals that live in the desert? How do they survive and thrive here? What should participants do if they encounter one? Discover amazing things about the desert animals and join a park ranger for a 1-mile/one-hour walk along the Merkle Trail. The hard-smooth surface of the trail accommodates wheelchairs and strollers. Bring a flashlight, water and closed-toe shoes. No pets. Location: Area 6.

•Find the Ranger on the Vista Trail: 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, hike up the Vista Trail and find the park ranger. This fun hike is mildly challenging and gives views of the Valley from the top. Ranger B will be somewhere up there to answer any questions participants have about the park, desert animals and desert plants.

•Beginning Desert Hiking: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, interested in learning how to hike in the desert? This easy hike on a level 1-mile scenic trail will introduce participants to the fun world of desert hiking. Officials will cover what to carry, what to wear and how to hike safely in the desert. Location: Area 6.

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