SMEEC has something for everyone!

Through a partnership between the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC), an Arizona non-profit, the South Mountain Environmental Education Center (SMEEC) has re-opened.

The facility is a hub for guests exploring the park/preserve that it calls home as well as a gathering place for the community to learn about plants, animals, natural history and the conservation needs of the Sonoran Desert. It also is a popular destination for school field trips.

What You’ll Find at SMEEC!

No visit to South Mountain Park is complete without a stop at SMEEC. Whether you’re looking for tips to enjoy family, friends or solo time in the Park, a deeper understanding of the plants, animals and history of South Mountain or a place to hold your next memorable private event, SMEEC has something for everyone.

Guest Amenities
Let us help you plan your adventure in South Mountain Park. Our friendly staff can recommend a trail to suit your time and skills and our gift shop is stocked with all your basic outdoor recreational needs including trail maps, sunblock, water bottles and more. Our Visitor Center provides a climate-controlled space for a quick rest or a good conversation about adventures ahead.

Educational Programs
Interpretive exhibits inside the Visitor Center and along the fully accessible trail just outside the Center’s doors offer an introduction to the history of South Mountain, the Park Preserve and the plants and animals found there. You’ll also find interactive activity stations with hands-on exploration that is fun for all ages. Interpretive talks with South Mountain Park Rangers and education staff from Arizona Center for Nature Conservation are also available on a regular schedule.

At SMEEC we offer a variety of affordable educational programs for children, families, adults and school groups of all sizes and sorts. Explore the fascinating world of South Mountain Park and the Sonoran Desert through science investigations, hands-on activities, art, nature play and so much more – you can even spend the night at SMEEC. Our programs for schools are aligned with Arizona K – 12 Academic Standards and all of our programs are inclusive for anyone with a desire to have fun and learn in nature.

Click Here for a Current Class Listing

Programming for All Ages at South Mountain Environmental Education Center

Classes and Programs offered through Arizona Center for Nature Conservation at South Mountain

Please call 602.914.4333 to register.

Ranger Led Walks (Families)

Join Ranger Nikki for an easy-paced walk along the Judith Tunell trail, learning about the
wildlife and rich history of South Mountain and this region of Arizona.

Program Schedule
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. on the following dates:
April 6  |  April 20  |  May 4  |  May 18

Program Fee
Free – No registration required.

Meet Scientists of the Mountain (Adults)

We’re inviting professionals from various sciences for casual talks and learning experiences geared toward adult audiences. Meet with environmental and wildlife scientists, biologists, geologists, naturalists, archaeologists, engineers, and more!

Program Schedule
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. on the following dates:
April 9  |  May 7  |  May 28

Program Fee

Nature Stories and Games for Preschool (Ages 3 – 5)

Inspire learning and a love of the natural world through stories, games, and adventures! Add an additional hour of guided nature play for an additional fee. Caregivers have the option to attend the program with their child or drop them off for a higher fee*.

Program Schedule
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. or 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. on the following dates:
April 6  |  April 20  |  May 4  |  May 18

Program Fee
One-hour program: Child/caregiver pair: $6
One-hour program: Child independent: $8
Two-hour program: Child/caregiver pair: $8
Two-hour program: Child independent: $10

*Please note that for the drop-off option, parents must remain within South Mountain Park during the program.

Friday Evenings on the Mountain for Adults and Youth (Ages 7 and up)

Programs for both adults and youth offered simultaneously so that everyone can have fun learning as they enjoy the mountain evening. Includes night walks, stories of the mountain, night sky viewings, and more!

Program Topics
Friday Evenings on the Mountain programs are 7 – 9 p.m. on the following dates:

April 22 – Earth Day into the Night
April 29 – Explore the Night Sky

Program Fee
Adult: $12
Child/Youth (ages 7 and up): $15

South Mountain Science (Ages 8-13)

Learn the science of nature as you explore the mountain with hands on activities and investigations.

Program Topics
Program runs from 9:30 – 11 a.m. on the following dates:
April 9

Program Fee
Child: $12

South Mountain Science & Animal Encounters (Ages 8-13)

Learn the science of nature as you explore the mountain with hands on activities and investigations.
This program also includes a live animal interaction.

Program Topics
Program runs from 9:30 – 11 a.m. on the following dates:
May 14

Program Fee
Child: $18

Overnight on South Mountain (Ages 7 and up)

Enjoy South Mountain all night long! Hike among the creatures of the desert night, perform science experiments and design challenges, spend the night inside the Event Center, and see the beautiful mountain sunrise! April 15, $50 (includes dinner and breakfast). All children must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Program Schedule
Program runs from 6:30 p.m. – 9 a.m. on the following dates:
April 15

Program Fee
Adult: $50
Child: $50

School Field Trips (Grades K – 12)

Classes learn about science, sustainability, ecology, and biodesign through learning sessions that combine a short walk along a South Mountain trail with activities and inquiry over a two hour visit. Learning objectives based on the Arizona State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

Program Schedule
School Field Trips are offered on Thursdays and Fridays and must be booked at least two weeks in advance.

Program Fee
General Student: $5
Title I Student*: $4

Chaperones are free; adult to student ratio must be at least 1:6 for third grade and under, and 1:9 for fourth grade and up.


To register for classes and programs offered through
Arizona Center for Nature Conservation at South Mountain, please call 602.914.4333

In addition to classes and activities offered through Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, SMEEC proudly hosts programs offered through the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. Check out their site for times and descriptions.

Programs and activities through City of Phoenix


Rental Facilities

The Training Center located at SMEEC is a versatile venue with space for up to 200 guests. Much more than a standard meeting room, this space can easily accommodate corporate meeting, team building, volunteer groups, receptions, lecture series and more. Fundraising walks, runs or bike rides booked through the city can reserve space for registration or post-event celebrations.

With the backdrop of the mountain preserve and the foreground of the City’s skyline, the Center provides a stunning atmosphere to host family celebrations, corporate parties or fundraising events.

Rental facilities are not subject to the same operational hours as the Visitor Center and evening hours are available.

For more information please reach out to our Group Events department: or  602-914-4301.

Catering is available for events of all sizes by Lancer Hospitality.


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