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The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Updated on April 13, 2009

 Imagine lush desert vegetation, a variety of native animals and intriguingly shaped saguaros. Should you decide to visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, you will get all the above in just one trip. The beauty of this museum lies mainly in the fact that its animals are presented in their natural settings giving the visitor the possibility to appreciate a botanical garden and a zoo all at the same time.

These 21 acres of winding paths and deserts landscapes will lead you almost eye to eye with wolves, mountain lions, prairie dogs and much more. Upon entering the establishment, you will be handed a map and will be told about the attractions of the day.  The museum also offers interactive displays that will teach you interesting facts about its more than 300 animals and 1200 varieties of plants and trees.

One of the main attractions is the humming bird aviary display. Here you will be able to walk through paths with humming birds flying about very closely. It is a great sight to observe this fluttering beings fly right passed you or see them drink the nectar off a flower.

Photographers may particularly enjoy the Raptor Flight Show held twice a day. It is advised to get there early as on crowded days, space may be limited.

Animals close to extinction may also be observed, look specifically for the Mexican Wolf, desert pupfish, Sonora chub,thick-billed parrot, bonytail chub, razorback sucker, Gila topminnow, Colorado River squawfish and many more.

Visitors should expect to be able to see the whole Sonora Desert Museum in 2-3 hours, however, the zoo is always in expansion so the time required to see it all may tend to lengthen. Every now and then a docent dressed in white may be encountered, these are  trained volunteers that are available to explain and answer all your question. The wonderful message  sent out to visitors is that the museum focuses more on education rather than entertainment. This is ultimately what makes the difference between a zoo and a museum.

If you are planning to visit in the summer since the museum is mostly outdoors, make sure you are wearing a hat and plenty of sunscreen. It is not too unusual for temperatures there to reach over 100 degrees. Also do not forget to bring water bottles to keep hydrated. However, water fountains and shady areas are found scattered throughout the museum.

If walking has gotten you hungry make sure to stop by the Ironwood Terraces or the Ocotillo Cafe' and enjoy a refreshing drink and food. Small pic nic areas may be found near the museum's entrance. A few gift shops are also available for those that must purchase souvenirs or other itms for ever lasting memories.

The drive to the Sonora Desert Museum is simply  scenic and amazing. Expect rolling hills covered with saguaros. The museum is found on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. For more information about hours, exhibits and prices please visit their website.

The Arizona Deser Musesum was established in 1952 by William Carr and Arthur Pack. The museum has in mind various goals:

  • To Provide educational programming for children and adults
  • To Conserve the Sonoran Desert environment by protecting native plants and native animals
  • To Maintain and improve the Museum's collections of native plants and animals
  • To Support ongoing research and aloow advancing scientific understanding of the Sonoran desert


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