If you are in the area don’t miss this Tucson gem. The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is one of the top attractions in Tucson. Not just a zoo, but a botanical garden and a museum as well. This unique attraction gives you incredible opportunity to see the desert, and the animals that reside here in there natural habitat located in just under 100 acres.
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The name is a little confusing, after visiting I would say that it is mostly zoo, with trails through a botanical garden, and entrance buildings that house a small natural history museum. Despite the word museum in the name you will spend most of your time outdoors, so good walking shoes, sunglasses and some sunscreen is important.
We would suggest coming early for two reasons, it gets hot by the afternoon and two it is a popular spot for tourists and natives alike. Your first exhibits will be directly to your right where the buildings house the “natural history museum” part of this attraction as well as home to Arizona’s reptiles. Choose the upper right path to explore the cave and learn about Arizona’s minerals. Kids will like this part.
Trails at the Sonoran Desert Museum
The Mountain Woodland Path as pictured to your left will lead you to the homes of the Mexican Wolf, Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Parrots, and deer.
If you continue on to the Desert Grasslands you can see the Prairie Dogs and the Owls and the snakes. Near here is the Cactus Garden with various native cacti.
The Riparian Corridor is a refreshing exhibit because it is home to Arizona’s native coatis, otters and beavers. Many don’t realize that river otters once populated the southwest. They are very rare now, but so entertaining to watch here in Tucson.
Right behind this exhibit is Cat Canyon where you can view the bobcats from both above and inside below. It is also home to the endangered ocelot and the jaguarundi.
Off the main paths and behind Cat Canyon is the Desert Loop Trail which has beautiful views of the desert cacti and plants.
It is also home to the coyotes, lizards, and the javelinas. Following the paths beyond the Cat Canyon and Riparian Corridor you will see the tortoise and the Walk in Bird Aviary where you can see some pretty birds up close.
Following the path through the Desert Gardens you’ll make your way to my personal favorite exhibit the Hummingbird Aviary.
The paths will lead you through hundreds of native trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. Many of them will have their names posted nearby. Making this attraction a botanical garden within a zoo.
Address:2021 North Kinney Road, Tucson
Directions: the route through Gate’s Pass is the most scenic.
- Saguaro National Forest (1.5 miles)
- Old Tucson Studios (3 miles)
- Sabino Canyon (28 miles)