Our communications intern Lauren recently took a jeep tour with Arizona Territorial Adventures. She offered to write a blog post about her experience and we happily obliged.

Last Tuesday, I woke up early before the heat could postpone my plans of exploring the Sonoran Desert with Walker Remington, a real life cowboy and owner of Arizona Territorial Adventures Jeep Tour. I met up with a small group to wait for Walker to arrive. We were excited, but not sure what to expect!

As Walker shuffled over to us, we all smiled as we noticed his attire. He was dressed as a cowboy from head to toe: a tan cowboy hat and riding pants, a red floral button down shirt and grey scarf, ammunition strapped gun holsters on each hip and brown knee-high cowboy boots with spurs. He had every little detail covered and I knew we had picked the right Jeep Tour!

We hopped in the Jeep and headed north toward the Anthem area. Along the way, Walker offered tidbits of history and old tales about the Phoenix area. He knew a lot about the Indian tribes that had once inhabited this area and how the native peoples were able to survive using natural vegetation found in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. I was very impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm; it was like having a history lesson from a true cowboy, in the middle of the desert.

Finally, Walker found a good spot to take the Jeep off-road. As he switched the Jeep into 4-wheel drive, I looked the up at rocky terrain ahead of us and hoped the Jeep would be able to climb the steep, dirt trail. My fears quickly faded because Walker handled the Jeep like a pro and it was time to get out and explore. Walker reminded us that it’s really important to watch where you are walking in the desert because most plants have burrs, stickers or needles of some sort. It’s smart to wear thick soled shoes and long pants to reduce the risk of getting injured.

Some people might think the desert is a dry, lifeless landscape, but there is so much more to the desert than you might think! The desert is a beautiful, scenic place where over 2,500 types of plants live, many of which can be used for food or medicine. Many animals such as lizards, rodents, jackrabbits, coyotes, javelinas and mountain lions have adapted to living in the desert’s dry conditions. Years when the Valley gets enough rain, the brown desert terrain transforms into a lively habitat with vivid green plants and colorful blooms of red, orange and blue. Walker told us it’s a sight to see, but unfortunately this past spring was very dry so we missed out on the view this time.

Walker also pointed out a few plants that were safe to eat, in case we ever happened to be stranded in the desert. He explained the myths about saguaro cacti being a great source of drinking water, which is not true because the cactus ingests very high levels of sodium that we could not drink. I also learned that saguaro cacti are native only to Arizona and part of Mexico, so any old western movies that depict the Wild West as having saguaro cacti was most likely filmed in our wonderful state!

The Jeep Tour was a blast and I would definitely sign up for another desert adventure with Walker! He also offers a moonlight desert tour that I think would be really fun to check out.