Encounter wolves, rattlesnakes, coyotes, bighorn sheep and rare plant species at this living museum in the desert.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a zoo, botanical garden and natural history museum that showcases the flora and fauna of southern Arizona and the Sonoran Desert. More than 200 animal species and 1,200 plant types grow or live in simulations of natural habitats.
Walk along 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of pathways that meander through 21 acres (8.5 hectares) of desert landscapes. Take the Desert Loop Trail to see coyotes, javelinas and lizards in their spacious enclosures. These enclosures are surrounded by fences that are almost invisible to the naked eye, making it feel like you are in a wide, open desert space with nothing between you and the animals.
Go to Cat Canyon where bobcats, gray foxes, ocelots and porcupines live in naturalistic grotto settings. Venture sub-surface for the Life Underground exhibit to see how animals such as kangaroo rats and kit foxes survive when the desert is too hot for them. Walk into the Earth Sciences Center, an artificial cave with chambers, arches and a 75-foot (23-meter) tunnel to explore. See the permanent mineral collection and learn about cave geology and the animals that live in these cool, dark spaces.
One of the museum’s highlights is Raptor Free Flight, a daily bird-of-prey demonstration from mid-October through mid-April. Hawks, falcons, ravens and other species fly untethered in the open desert. These flight demonstrations focus on how the birds behave in the wild.
To find out more about the museum’s animals and plants join one of the interpretive tours. They are offered several times during the day and are included with the ticket price. Alternatively, ask questions of the volunteer guides as you make your way around.
The museum is open daily. Most visitors spend at least half a day here. Many of the exhibits are outside so bring sunscreen, hats and bottled water with you. Admission prices vary by the season. For up-to-date information on charges, visit the museum’s official website.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is 16 miles (26 kilometers) west of downtown Tucson. On-site parking is free. There is no public transportation access to the museum.