Sunday, July 6, 2008

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

One thing you can count on in Tucson is the natural beauty of the desert surroundings. But if your idea of a desert is hot, dry, barren sand you owe it to yourself to check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Vista like viewMuseum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. October through February, and 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. March through September. The price for admittance for adults was $9.50 as of July, 2008.

Adobe viewThe museum is located just west of Tucson on a twisty, hilly, paved two lane road with a speed limit of 35 mph. The slower pace of the road is a perfect reminder to slow down once you get inside the museum. There is a lot of ground to cover and most of it is outside so dress appropriately and bring sunscreen and pick up a bottle of water at the entrance to the museum if you didn’t bring one with you.

Cactus flowerDuring the summer months try to get there when they open at 7:30 a.m. to beat the summer afternoon heat. My friend and I got there at 10:00 a.m. and stayed until about 2:00 p.m. The temperature was just over 100 degrees towards the end of our visit, which was getting a little warm after trudging around the desert trails for three hours.

Underground CaveNot all of the sights are outside however. There underground sections cut out to get a better view of some of the natural habitat of the wildlife there, as well as a small aquarium and even a cave to explore! In addition to their unique visual perspective, they offer a welcome respite from the heat of the day.

This would be a good time to point out the wide variety of exhibits at the museum. While my friend and I spent three hours walking the area we didn’t see every exhibit there. I recommend picking up the free self guiding tour map at the entrance. Take a few minutes to look it over and plan your day from there.

Here is a partial list of the current exhibits:
Reptiles & Invertebrates
Overlook (over the Avra Valley and six mountain ranges.)
Earth Sciences
Mountain Woodland
Desert Grassland
Cat Canyon
Desert Loop Trail
Life on the Rocks
Riparian (stream-side) Corridor
Walk-in Aviary
Desert Garden
Life Underground
Pollination Gardens
Hummingbird Aviary
Cactus Garden
Fishes & Amphibians

Cactus GardenIn addition to all of the exhibits, there are plenty of shaded rest stops, drinking fountains, restrooms, a gift shop and two restaurants that offer places to take a break from the day’s activities. There is even an ice cream shop to discover along the way!

Sparrow Hawk
Here are a few example of the wildlife you'll see during your visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Prairie DogI left the museum a little hot, a little tired, and a little more amazed at the beauty of the desert and knowing a little bit more about my new home here in Tucson.

1 comment:

Heidi R. said...

Nice post, Robert. I'd love to visit this place when I come out there someday. :)