Another important place I wanted to visit but was unable to was the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. The Museum packs quite a punch with its many different features including a zoo, gardens, trails, a walk-in aviary, ampitheater, education center, museum, eateries, etc. Look for javalinas, coyotes, lizards, prairie dogs, bears, tropical birds, hummingbirds, beavers, long-horn sheep and scores of other animals, birds or amphibians!!
It is a great place if you like to learn about the desert, its wonderful wildlife, the natural geography of the area, and be in the out-of-doors. It's exhibits are so varied, and s's going on special events fill the calendar so check out all that's available for the day you plan to visit.
If all the fresh air and excitement makes you hungry, there are several options for you. "Ironwood Terraces" self-serve grill, open everyday, offers a full menu including children's meals. The Ocotillo Cafe offers fine dining but is open only seasonally for lunch in winter and dinner in Summer on Saturday evenings--Lunch: 11 am to 3 pm from Dec. to April; Dinner: June - August. Check the website for exact dates and times.
Phoebes Coffee Bar and the Cottonwood Snack Shop are open for hot & cold beverages, pastries, sandwiches and ice cream, and other assorted snacks.
There is something here to please everyone and admission fees (2008 prices) are reasonable:
$9.50 adults in Summer June - August; $13 Winter September - May
$2.25 kids 6 -12 in Summer; $4.25 Winter. Children under 5 free!
UPDATE: Admission Sept. to May: (2012 prices) Adults - $14.50; kids 6 - 12 $4.50; Admission June - August: Adults - $12.00; kids 6-12 $3.00.
Check website for exact opening times and prices.
While it is called a museum, I would look at it more like a z00-museum given the nature and features of this establishment. The Museum is one of Tucson’s main tourist attractions and is visited by hundreds each year. Located on the outskirts of Tucson, it is a natural history museum with animals, botanical garden and birds. It is built to give access to outside trailing through the museum as you enjoy the different species of cacti and desert plants, birds and reptiles.
My daughter enjoyed the mountain lions and different kinds of birds. I documented some of the desert plants. It is a great place for families with children and admission fees are quite reasonable. If you like nature, plants, animals, art, or good food, then this is the place for you! It is a perfect place to learn about the Sonoran Desert and enjoy a great walk.
When visiting the Desert Museum around a month ago, my family was treated to witnessing an amazing site. We chose to journey down to see the javelina and were lucky enough to see every single javelina the park said they had, all hudled in a small group. Never before had I seen so many javelina together! The interesting part of it all was how each javelina was doing its own thing - some sleeping some trotting slowly, and some just standing making some grunting sounds. It was a very noteworthy experience that I hope some others will get to see, too. We went early in the day.
Founded in 1952, this museum is well known zoo for it's wonderful exhiblits and displays of the natural history and for its beautiful botanical garden. They have recreated beautiful Sonoran Desert Region exhiblits with mountain lions, prarie dogs, gila monsters and so much more. They have 300 animal species and 1,200 variety of plants. Their goal is to educate the public to the importance of protecting the enviornment and the species that flourishes in the Sonora Desert.
The Desert Museum is one of the unique features of Tucson that you won't find anywhere else in the world. It is barely a museum, but rather really a zoo of Sonoran Desert Animals. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see some really amazing desert creatures, from rattle snakes, to gila monsters, to Javelina (wild desert pig). Not to mention the up close and personal encounter with humming birds and a mountain lion. My daughter is two years old and loved it. We went in late December and it was comfortable, and busy. You do want to get there right when the Museum opens to avoid the lines. Food is available, not great and a little pricey, and it can take you a whole day to see all of the exhibits. We were there for about 3 hours and saw 70% but the little ones ran out of gas. We cruised through a few things that were less interesting to us. They even have an underground cave experience. All in all, I highly recommend this as one of those things you should do if you ever find yourself near Tucson.
Like the desert as a whole, this outdoor museum can be dismissed easily with a quick stroll and exit. However, give yourself some hours to take it in and you'll be rewarded with an appreciation of richness and some insight into the abundant, complex, and varied life in the area. It helps put this special environment in much better context for travellers, beyond tourism. Photo ops are tremendous. My visit in mid-May was prime springtime for extra color.
The grounds are well developed and broken down into various segments with vegetation and associated wildlife. Helpful staff and signs are useful. There are several restaurants and refreshment areas for breaks. I first saw this some 25 years ago. The positive impression from those years ago stayed with me and I found it even more engaging last week. Like other activities in the desert, a morning start is cooler and less demanding. Two aviaries (one for hummingbirds, another for many more kinds of birds) was nice. The 'talk show' featuring live gila monsters and diamondback rattle snakes was well done in a cool comfortable theatre. Spending some time here can give you a different perspective at the vast desert lands of the SW.
Nearby Saguaro catcus reserves were impressive, especially if you think many can be hundreds of years old, in bloom, with an array of arms towering above you. You can easily drive through these areas. Picnic areas are available for the truly heat tolerant. See and be changed!
The Sonoran Desert Museum has been said to be a museum, zoo and botanical gardens in one. There are several indoor museum exhibits about the desert and the animals that live here. The winding paths offer a variety of desert plants that are identified with tags, and you can view many animals that live here in Arizona including the bighorn sheep, bobcats, mountain lions,etc.
The hummingbird gardens were my favorite, this is a great spot to view several different species of hummers living in one confined area. When we were there we could easily see and hear them all around. Another neat thing was that you could see their tiny nests, which would otherwise go unnoticed. There is also an aviary with other Arizona birds that was pretty cool to see, the tangiers were very pretty birds.
It's located at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's History wall. The current George L. Mountainlion resides with his sister in the mountain habitat at the Museum. Current hours at 7:30 to 5.
By the way, a mountainlion is the largest cat that purrs, so technically it is a small cat 'cause large cats roar rather than purr.
In the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum, there is an animal enclosure of local animales including cougar and birds of prey.
Was surprised to see how rather small in size were two of my favorite animals, the wiley Coyote and speedy Roadrunner bird. Both are the characters of TV cartoon series "The Road Runner" ... peep peep
The scientific name of the Roadrunner is Geococcyx californianuso. Found in the USA Southwestern deserts of Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan. It can attack and eat rattlesnakes and achieve a maximum running speed of 17km/hr.
Enjoyed this amazing open desert museum, walking the trail with different species of thorny, bulbous and flowering cacti species.
There is a walking trail and you can see different groups of water hardy flora grown in close proximity. Many are even flowering in this natural outdoor.
Be carefrul not to allow children running or go hands on with some of the spikey cacti.
Regarding food at the museum, the only picnic area is outside the ASDM, however we came across a couple of restaurants inside.
The 2004 admission for adults in high season was $12. Go early in the day, and avoid walking the trails at mid-day (desert trails have no shade).
This facility is well managed and very interesting...a variet of indigenous plant and animal life...including javelina...(which I am not a fan of...but that is a personal story for anther time...I got charged by one) anyway, lots og great displays and docents and everything Sonoran Desert!!!
Actually more of a zoo than a museum, the Desert Museum is home to a large collection of desert animals and plants (many in their natural habitat). Here one can see grand stands of mighty Saguaro Cactus and a host of animals including Javelina, Mountain Lion and playful Prarie Dogs. Also there are numerous reptiles and amphibians on display as well as certain invertebrates. Birdwatching is popular here as well for not only are there 2 aviaries, but one can see a host of native birdlife in the wild as well such as Cactus Wren and Gila Woodpecker. The latter making its nest in the trunks of the saguaro. There are 2 restaurants and a nice gift shop on the premises. Plan to spend at least 2 hours (3-4 is best). Bring water and a hot to protect yourself from the powerful desert sun.
$12 gets you into one of the best museums in Southwest, if not the country.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is combination zoo, bird conservatory, arboretum and museum.
You start out with the animals, all of which are native to the Sonoran desert, and include the famous gila monster (always sleeping), several different kinds of rattlesnakes and scorpions, prarie dogs, river otters, coatimundi, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and the desert tortoise just to name a few.
Then you move onto the native plants. Lots of different agaves, cacti, atols, yuccas, bushes, trees, flowers and grasses.
There is also a native bird conservatory which features most every bird native to the area. The more popular hummingbird conservatory is just a few feet away, and offers a very close view of these amazing creatures.
During the summer, when the museum is less popular because of the heat, there is a night program which is when you'll see many animals out that you wouldn't normally see (like the gila monster). This is also a little less money, but I would strongly recommend going during the day first.
It is difficult to describe the Arizona-Sonara Desert Museum (ASDM) in one tip. It is part museum, part zoo, part biological garden.
ASDM is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, and displays 300+ animal species as well as plants. The museum is filled with birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, bugs and fish. Most of the museum is outdoors with almost 2 miles of paths.
There is a lot to look at. For instance, the mountain lion enclosure is cool - From the back of the display, you can often see the mountain lion close up, as his favourite perch is high (up a tree I think) in his enclosure. This perch happens to be right beside a viewpoint (with tinted glass) so we can see him, and he doesn't seem to notice us. Then you walk around and see his non-fenced enclosure from a point 100 feet lower.
We were trying to minimize exposure to the sun so we spent time in both aviaries - one just for hummingbirds - bring your telephoto lens.
There are also underground exhibits covering animals that primarily come out in the evening. We joined a guided tour which was great as well - we had somebody to ask questions of when we needed that. We learned a new term. The demonstrations and tours are provided by docents - volunteers with an interest in desert flora and fauna.
We went to the ASDM the first day we visited Tucson. That was a bit of a mistake as we were not acclimatized to the heat yet, so we had to leave before we were finished looking over the museum. It could easily take more than a whole day to see everything there is of interest.