Desert Shelter Tour

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

Zerve Seller: TaliesinWest
Activity #3874
  • Explore the desert area while your guide reveals how native materials and landforms were translated into design elements by Wright.

  • Experience what it was like to be a guest in Wright's famous home on our signature tour which includes the Taliesin West Garden Room.

  • Experience Wright's architectural genius on this 3-hour behind the scenes tour which includes guest speakers and even mid-morning tea.

  • Discover Wright’s ability to integrate indoor & outdoor spaces such as the Cabaret Theater and Wright's office.

  • Wright's creation at night takes on a luminous, jewel-like quality and the structures, lit from within, form a truly dramatic setting.

  • Special tours for large groups can be arranged for guests looking to experience both the interior and exterior areas of Taliesin West.

  • We also schedule private tours of Wright's Taliesin West with an architect or personal tour guide for individuals or small groups.

The Desert "Shelter" Tour of Taliesin West only runs from mid-November through April, so please check back soon for next season's schedule.

You may view a calendar of other activities from TaliesinWest.
Or for more information, please contact TaliesinWest.
Gift Certificates:


Frank Lloyd Wright began building this desert masterpiece in 1937 as his personal winter home, studio, and architectural campus. Located on the beautiful Sonoran desert in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, the site offers a broad range of guided public tours where visitors can experience Wright’s brilliance.

On the 2-Hour Desert "Shelter" Tour you'll experience life as an architecture student at Taliesin West. As part of their studies, first-year architecture students generally live in simple eight-foot square shepherds' tents.  Then later on during their studies they will design more elaborate "shelters" for themselves.

On these dynamic desert tours the students in the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture lead the way to show guests their student shelter housing which has been called, "the coolest dorms in the world."  Guests will learn about the innovative shelter program at Taliesin West, a tradition that has existed since Frank Lloyd Wright first slept under the stars in a simple canvas shelter on the ground that would become Taliesin West.

Meeting Location

Taliesin Drive (Scottsdale, AZ) (Exact meeting location details will be provided immediately upon purchase of tickets.)
73 Reviews Rating: 4.6 4.6 out of 5.0
Verified Customer Reviews
Always from real, paying customers
# of Reviews Positive
= Overall
% Positive Average
Last 3 months 17 38 0 = 38 100% 4.6
Last 6 months 28 66 0 = 66 100% 4.6
Last 12 months 28 66 0 = 66 100% 4.6
All 73 188 0 = 188 100% 4.8
73 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 5
Excellent Tour!
Sat, Apr 30  1:15 PM Male 20-29 Domestic Tourist(s) Couple on a Date
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and always willing to answer questions and provide his own opinions from a student's perspective. Highly recommended!
Rating: 5
Shelter tour buzz
Sat, Apr 30  1:15 PM Female Unspecified Unspecified Group of Friends
Guide, desert and shelters were all great. We found and bought the Arizona arts book on these shelters on Amazon
Rating: 4
Sat, Apr 30  1:15 PM Female 60-69 Domestic Tourist(s) Individual
Great, informative tour.
Rating: 5
Taliesin Desert Shelter Tour
Sat, Apr 23  1:15 PM Female 60-69 Local Individual
Paul, our student tour guide, did a terrific job explaining the process from designing to building the desert shelters. He went out of his way to help us traverse the rocky and hilly terrain. He had historical data and first-hand experience about living in the desert. It was wonderful! We will go again in the fall and ask in advance to make sure the ModFab is included in the tour!
Rating: 5
Fascinating Desert Dwellings!
Sat, Apr 16  1:15 PM Male 20-29 Domestic Tourist(s) Group of Friends
Two Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture students walked the group over a large desert area of the 500 acre property, showing us structures that have been built in organic method and spirit, since Wright settled in this area in the 1930s with his apprentices. This is a fascinating tour for any Wright fan, as well as for anyone interested in downsizing and living in a small structure. The guide was so generous that he gave us an extra hour! Do this. You'll love it.
Rating: 4
Very enjoyable and informative tour
Sat, Apr 2  1:15 PM Male 60-69 Combination Other
I've always been interested in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and visited 'Falling Waters' years ago. To discover that I now resided so closely to Taliesin West gave my son and I an opportunity to learn much more about him and the way that his students interpreted his design philosophies. Great tour will be back to learn more!
Rating: 4
Unique student living spaces at Taliesin West.
Sat, Apr 2  1:15 PM Female 60-69 Local Group of Friends
The tour was interesting and illuminating re: the unique approach to student living spaces and student life, as initiated by Mr. Wright years ago.
Rating: 4
View into student life at FLWSOA
Sat, Apr 2  1:15 PM Male 40-49 Domestic Tourist(s) Individual
Though the student shelters often reminded me of national park restrooms due to their scale and attempt to blend in with their surroundings, it was fascinating to see what someone with a year to ponder and $2K to purchase supplies (plus beg and reuse) can come up with. There are some iconic structures which are so nice they've become permanent in theory, and others which likely will be gone next year. Some sloppy, some precise, some successful and others failures; all have a story. It was also great to get to ask questions to the student who led the tour about his personal experiences building his shelter, his aspirations and what's next for him following his graduation.
Rating: 5
A big win for anyone creative
Sat, Apr 2  1:15 PM Female 50-59 Local Family With Children
This tour (unlike the insights tour, which was marginal) was spectacular! The student was knowledgeable and interesting and the shelters were fascinating! Highly recommend.
Rating: 5
had an interesting tour with entertaning guide.
Sat, Mar 19  1:15 PM Female 20-29 Combination Other
Saw a variety of approaches to shelter and learned a lot about the history of Taliesen, it's daily life, and the challenges of the desert.
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 73
Ratings and Reviews for:
Do I need to buy tickets in advance?
Advance purchase is highly recommended, as space is limited per tour. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased using a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
Are there any age limits? Can we bring our kids?
Unfortunately, children under the age of 12 are not allowed on this tour. If you have young children we recommend you click on the "Calendar of Other Activities" link to the left and check out one of our other tours that might be more appropriate for kids.
What about bad weather?
The majority of this tour takes place outside and will run in light or moderate weather, but may be cancelled in the case of severe weather. You will be notified if the tour is cancelled and will be allowed to reschedule your tickets or receive credit for a future event.
How much walking will we do and what is the terrain like?
We generally walk approximately 1 to 1.25 miles along dirt paths through the desert on this tour. This can include some uneven and rocky ground with cacti along the path so appropriate footwear is required for this tour.
Can we explore Taliesin West on our own or do we need to take a tour?
All tours of Taliesin West are guided and guests are not allowed to explore on their own. Admission to the bookstore is free of charge but guests must have tour tickets to view the remainder of the property.
Is Taliesin West handicap accessible?
Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark built between 1937 and 1959. As such, it was not designed or built to contemporary accessibility standards. This tour in particular is not handicap accessible due to the dirt paths with uneven and rocky ground that we walk on.
Do you allow photography?
Guests are welcome to take photos for their personal use. There are a few areas where we do not allow photography, but your tour guide will alert you to these areas during the tour. If you are looking to use photos in a professional capacity, please contact us prior to purchasing your tickets by clicking on the "Contact TaliesinWest" link to make arrangements.
Is Taliesin West open all year round?
Yes, we operate tours throughout the entire year. However, the Desert Shelter Tour does not run all year round and only runs from mid-November through April. Please be sure to check our "Calendar of Other Activities" for the exact tour schedule on the day you plan to visit.
Do you have a gift shop?
Yes, Anneliese's Bookstore is located next to the main parking lot and stocks the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Collection® products and books. Admission to the bookstore is free of charge and its regular hours of operation are 8:30am to 6:00pm October - May, 8:30am - 4pm June - August and 8:30am - 5pm in September.
What should I wear? What should I bring?
We recommend wearing comfortable clothing and we require wearing shoes appropriate for walking on desert trails. We recommend closed-toe shoes with a sturdy sole. Guests wearing flip-flops or sandals will not be allowed to participate. Since the tour does take place outside, we also recommend bringing a bottle of water and an umbrella. While we have a limited number of umbrellas available for guests, they can come in handy both on rainy and sunny days in the desert.
Are food and drinks available for purchase?
w We don't have food available for purchase. We do not recommend bringing outside food or drink on your tour, unless you'd like to bring a bottle of water, therefore we suggest grabbing something to eat either before or after your tour.
Is there parking available?
Yes, there is a free parking lot for all guests.
Are pets allowed to come?
No, other than certified service dogs, pets are not permitted.
What about guests with special needs?
Guests with special needs who are interested in visiting us but choose not to take the walking tour may request an Interpretive Guide and view a video on the history of Taliesin West while on site. Visually and hearing impaired guests who wish to bring someone to provide assistance on the tour such as a sign language interpreter may do so and the person providing assistance will not be charged admission.
Do you offer gift certificates?
Yes! Gift certificates are available and they make perfect gifts for holidays, birthdays or any other occasion! To purchase a gift certificate please click on the "Gift Certificates: Purchase" link in the box above.
Do you allow private parties or events?
Spacious Taliesin West is well suited for hosting exclusive corporate receptions and dinners. Groups ranging in size from 20 to 120 have experienced memorable evenings at Taliesin West using the many indoor and outdoor spaces. For more information about setting up a private event, please click on the "Contact TaliesinWest" link to get in touch with our staff.
Do you offer large group tours?
Yes, group tours are available and tours can be custom designed for prearranged groups of 15 or more. Please click on the "Contact TaliesinWest" link to discuss.
Can we do a private tour?
With advance notice (seven day notice preferred), individuals with very small groups may schedule a tour by an architect or personal guide. Please click on the "Contact TaliesinWest" link to discuss pricing and reservations.


Refund/Rescheduling Policy

Non-refundable, can be rescheduled with 24 hours notice.
Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded. You may reschedule your tickets (subject to availability) only if you do so at least 24 hours in advance.

Weather Policy

Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.

Other Policies

Children under 12 are not permitted on this tour.
Children under the age of 12 are not allowed on this tour. Please consider another tour option if you will be attending with young children.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is proud to present, Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s world-famous home and architectural laboratory, which offers guests the unique, immersive experience of a powerful and extremely personal National Historic Landmark.

Just minutes from downtown Scottsdale, Taliesin West is Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert masterpiece. In 1937, Wright and his apprentices built an architectural wonder out of the stone and sand that surrounded them in the Sonoran desert on the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Many of those apprentices (“the Fellowship”) who worked and lived alongside Mr. Wright still live at Taliesin West, as do the current students and faculty of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture -- making Taliesin West an ongoing, vibrant community.

The Taliesin West experience is both immersive and powerful. Guests are fully welcomed into every room and space—nothing on the tour is behind ropes or under glass. The tours, which include such attractions as the Cabaret Theater, Music Pavilion, Garden Room, Desert Shelters, and Mr. Wright’s living quarters and private office, are filled with surprise, majestic views, and intimate interior details. Each tour inspires visitors with the innovative principles, beautiful creations, technological experiments, and unparalleled body of work of Frank Lloyd Wright. As a result, guests find the Taliesin West tour experience delightfully engaging and deeply relevant. While photos and descriptions may give you a hint of what’s in store, there is no substitute for experiencing it first-hand.

Come to Taliesin West and be inspired.
Please call Zerve at
1 (800) 979-3370
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