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Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Pictures
This Tucson, AZ interpretive center is lively and interesting!
You can't come away from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum without learning something new. And, that statement stands no matter WHO you might happen to be...because the scope of topics covered by this Sonoran Desert interpretive center is simply too broad for any one person to be an expert in all of its subjects. Plus, in addition to learning from the individual exhibits themselves, you'll benefit from the experiences of the staff of docents stationed throughout the "park" who help you with any other questions you might have.
It's a popular museum, too---especially during Tucson's season of beautiful weather (which draws "snowbirds" yearly during the winter and springtime months.) In the picture of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum's entrance to your left, you see a calm & peaceful scene. That's a bit deceptive! This photo was taken in the early morning, not long after the museum opened for the day. By the time I left the attraction several hours later, there was a long line at the ticket booth, a plaza filled with people enjoying a bird-showing by one of the docents, and a parking lot so filled with cars that people were hiking to the entrance from the hinterlands!
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Docents
The two reasons why you will enjoy the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum are these---
1.) Attractive & varied exhibits
2.) Large staff of dedicated docents
There seems to be a docent stationed "around every bend" at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. (I can't vouch for this during the less-popular hot summer season. But if you go when the weather's nice & tourists are flocking in, this museum will have a visible staff of volunteers working to serve you.)
The docents' activities are varied. And each docent has his or her own area of expertise.
As you see above in the photo, a bird show is being given by one docent. Mini-lectures and animal showings are two types of docent activities which are just right for "shy" visitors who feel hesitant to ask questions. This docent showed the bird, all the while reeling off a spiel of fun facts for the surrounding crowd of visitors. Afterwards, any guest with a question got a turn to ask.
On the other hand, some docents work away from the limelight of the crowd, manning various booths or displays about individual topics. In the pictures of the museum's docents above & to your left, you can see two examples of this. Each of these docents staffed a display of items related to one particular topic. After guests view the displays, the docents answer questions from visitors wishing to learn still more about the topic.
Don't be shy! You'll get more out of your visit if you speak up! The beauty of this museum is that the docents make it interactive! If the "interactive version of the internet" is called Web 2.0, then you could certainly consider this Tucson attraction to be "Museum 2.0!"
There is absolutely no reason that any visitor should come away from the Arizona Sonora Museum with unanswered questions---that's the beauty of this attraction. Anyone with an interest in the natural world will enjoy a visit here. Plus, any parent home-schooling children in the Tucson area (or even passing through Tucson while on vacation) will be missing a valuable educational resource if they do not pay a visit here.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Display Pictures
Both kids and adults love the imaginative settings and displays
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum covers a number of different topics, all of them related to the Sonoran Desert (of which greater Tucson is a part.) You'll find exhibits about the creation of this region, and its physical features...from the gems and minerals its earth contains, to the magnificent caverns which can be found in various locations throughout the desert.
Is that a photo of a cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites that you see to your left? Actually...the answer is both "yes AND no." No, it's not a REAL cavern---it's a re-creation of a cavern. You won't always see "typical" exhibits at the Arizona Sonora Desert Musuem. They can get quite creative--and this is one example! But, while this isn't a naturally-created cavern, it IS a true likeness of what a stalactite-filled cavern does look like. And, this exhibit goes on to explain to visitors how a cavern such as this is formed by natural elements over many years of time.
Is that a picture of a cave entrance to your right? Once again...the answer is that it's man-made to LOOK like a cave you might find in the Sonoran desert!
Why is this cave at the museum? Because visitors (both kids AND adults!) love museum exhibits that don't LOOK like museum exhibits. Everyone wants a bit of fun in their lives...and these unusual touches make everyone just a little more curious to learn the facts being presented.
This cave is actually the entrance to still another area where you can learn more about the Sonoran deseret's geology.
Did you know that dinosaurs once roamed the area that has now become the Sonoran Desert?
Looking at the stark and rugged desert scenery, it's hard to visualize how differently this area appeared millions of years ago. But, it was indeed very different...and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum wants you to know that!
Kids enjoy digging around the fake dinosaur bones in the kids play area that you see on your left.
Yesteryear in the Sonoran Desert is also a topic of the exhiti you see in the picture to your right.
And paleontology is also a topic of the fun puzzle that you see in the picture to your left.
The story of this areas creation is the topic of an attractive exhibit at the museum. Notice the swirling galaxy in the photo to your right...which lends an awe-inspiring feeling to the room where you ponder the creation of the world!
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Animal Pictures
When asked to describe the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, some people reply that it's a zoo!
That's because this attraction is large and varied. As you've already noticed from the pictures above on this page, the AZ Desert Museum isn't really "all zoo." But, more or less, what you actually SEE here will reflect your own personal interests.
To a gem & mineral enthusiast, it's a center for rockhounds. To an amateur gardener, it's a botanical gardens featuring desert plants. And to animal-lovers...well, yes...it's a zoo!
There are 3 types of animal exhibits at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. They are---
1.) Natural outdoor settings (this picture of a prairie dog above was taken at one of the attractive outdoor exhibits)
2.) Terrarium-style indoor settings, such as this photo of a snake exhibit (seen on your left.)
3.) Free-ranging birds and animals...who choose to make their homes on the museum's spacious grounds!
In the next 3 pictures, desert birds roam the park's grounds. (While you're roaming through the buildings of the museum complex, it doesn't seem very park-like. Yet, once you journey forth on the outdoor trails, it very much seems like you're visiting a park---NOT a museum!)
The lovely little quail (picture on your right) was just going about its business...mindless of the visitors roaming the museum's paths.
Though you only see smaller animals in these photos, there ARE larger desert animals who live in the outdoor zoo-style exhibits at the museum. They were all sleeping or hiding during my visit...so I didn't get any good photos of them.
Nevertheless, those with patience may come away with some very good animal photographs at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum! During my visit, there were a few fellow-visitors toting some very heavy-duty cameras. This is a place where some very serious photographers like to visit!
In fact, you'll be able to see great shots of the park's animals on the museum's official website (see link at the end of this page.) Their website has a collection of over 4,500 photos you may view!
A list of some of the larger animals at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum include the rare Mexican wolf, the ocelot, the jaruarundi, the margay, the coyote, the beaver, and the American Black Bear. In all, there are over 100 different mammals "officially" living here (not counting the desert animal "squatters" who choose to build their homes here!)
There are also reptiles, amphibians, birds, arthropods...and, surprisingly...even fish! (There are ponds gracing the museum grounds.) Some of the animals in the museum's care are even on the "endangered species" list!
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Plant Pictures
To plant lovers, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a wonderful botanical garden showcasing flora of the desert Western USA.
There are 2 types of plant displays at this popular Tucson attraction (which sees 1/2 million visitors every year!)
1.) Nicely arranged displays in special plantings
2.) Natural areas where the flora grows wild
Most visitors to the museum LOVE cactus plants! No wonder, since this attractions sits amidst the Saguaro-filled Tucson Mountain Park...and is just down the road from the popular Saguaro National Park, as well.
In the picture of organ pipe cacti to your left, you can see an example of a "specially planted" exhibit along one of the trails.
On the other hand, this beautiful saguaro cactus plant thrives amidst other "natural" scenery in the park.
(There are actually about 2 miles of trails on the museum's grounds. Those wishing to explore in-depth may take their time to explore them all. Nevertheless, it's possible to see most of the popular exhibits in the outdoor segment of the park without straying too far from the museum buildings.)
Most visitors & residents of the Southwestern USA feel that desert plants have their own type of scenic beauty. Therefore, they're proud to display them in garden settings.
As you can see in the next pictures, cacti, ocotillo plants and desert blooms have been combined into extremely pleasing arrangements to adorn the museum's buildings.
The planters you see in these pictures decorate a patio just outside two popular stops at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum: the snack bar and the gift shop!
You'll find a fully-stocked gift shop here in which you may purchase a souvenir to remember your visit. You'll also find a number of lovely items which might make a tasteful gift for "the folks back home."
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Address, Map, Contact Info
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum phone number is (520) 883-2702.
Ticket Prices: The cost of tickets to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum vary depending on the time of year you visit. (Reduced rates apply during the hottest part of the summer...when you're less able to enjoy the out-of-door portion of the exhibition areas.) Fall/Winter/Spring ticket prices (as of January, 2013) are $14.50/adults, $5/kids ages 4-12; and children age 3 and under are admitted free of charge. These rates are in effect from September through May.
Discounted summer rates are in effect during June, July and August. During this time, ticket prices are reduced to $12 for adults and $4 for children between the ages of 4-12.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Hours of Operation: This outstanding Tuscon-area desert museum is open 365 days of the year. Its hours of operation, however, depend on which month you plan to make your visit. Fall/Winter Hours: During the park's "high season," when the weather is pleasant, visitors are plentiful, AND you may want to wait for the morning chill to leave the air, the museum opens at 8:30 am and takes its last admission at 4:15 pm (then closes at 5 pm.) This schedule is effective every October through February.
Spring/Summer hours: Though the weather in Tucson stays quite pleasant throughout March and April, the "summer" hours start to take effect March 1st, then run through September 30th each year. These are the months when getting an early start (ahead of the sun's heat) are important. These months, you'll enjoy heading to the Desert Museum at its 7:30 am opening time. (Nevertheless, its closing time remains at 5 pm/last admission 4:15 pm.)
Summer Saturday Evenings program: During June, July and August, the Desert Museum offers a special treat: evening hours every Saturday! This not only helps visitors see the museum as the summer's intense heat begins to cool down, but also lets visitors see a glimpse of the desert at night...when it begins to "come to life." Summer Saturday Evenings special hours begin at 7:30 pm and end at 10 pm.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Address: 2021 North Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85743. This location is on the west side of Tucson, AZ near the Old Tucson Studios, the Tucson Mountain Park, the Gilbert Ray Campground and the Saguaro National Park's "west" unit.
Or, to view a PDF map to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (which you may print at home before heading out to this attraction,) you may view the following
PDF Map of western Tucson, AZ attractions
from the National Park Service website. In addition to the convenience of being able to print this map and carry it with you as you travel to the museum, you'll also find other attractions marked on this map (that you may wish to explore on the same outing!)
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum website: Naturally, if you've become interested in adding this interesting Tucson attraction to your itinerary, you'll want to check out their website to examine all the further details not mentioned on this page. You may use the following link to view the www.DesertMuseum.org website, which is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum's official website.
Other things to do near the Arizona Sonora Museum: If you're interested in camping near the Arizona Sonora Museum, be sure to check our our Gilbert Ray Campground page. This is a delightful public campground well-suited for fall, winter and spring camping, hiking, and viewing the native flora and fauna. Or, to discover interesting attractions you can visit in southern Arizona, please see our What to Do in Tucson page, which describes a number of interesting activities you may enjoy...both in Tucson itself, as well as in other towns along Arizona's stretch of I-10.