|Catalina State Park|
This high desert park at 2,650 feet elevation north of Tucson features a wide array of desert plants and animals, as well as archaeological sites. The northwest face of the Santa Catalina Mountains forms the backdrop for the scenic park with its foothills, canyons, and streams. Plants include mes...
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
|Description: Located in Tucson Mountain Park and adjacent to Saguaro National Monument in one of the most pristine and lush saguaro-paloverde forests of all Arizona, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers spectacular wildlife viewing and mountain scenery. This world-renowned facility combines elements of a zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden. Its unique approach interprets the complete natural history of the Sonoran Desert region and its adjacent ecosystems. A broad range of interpretive activities is offered, including venomous reptile demonstrations, raptor free flight demonstrations from October to April, bird walks, summertime butterfly walks, and a variety of self-guided walks and activities. The museum also sponsors scientific research and conservation. This is a perfect place for photographers to capture photos of a wide variety of captive southwest species in natural-like settings. Due to the lush environment created at the Museum, photographers can also expect to obtain photos of wild animals in their native habitat.|
Wildlife to Watch: The museum displays over 300 species of animals and more than 200 species of plants native to the Sonoran desert in naturalistic habitat settings. Among the highlights are two aviaries, the Desert Loop Trail, Riparian Habitat, Mountain Habitat, Grasslands Habitat, and an underground Earth Science Center. Because the museum is built among the upland desert with little disturbance, there is an abundance of free-roaming wildlife that the visitor may encounter. Nowhere else can visitors have close encounters with live mountain lion, ocelot, coyote, javelina, Mexican gray wolf, river otter, beaver, thick-billed parrot, desert pupfish, Sonora chub, bonytail chub, razorback sucker, Gila topminnow, Colorado River pikeminnow, Apache trout, and many other species. In the Hummingbird Aviary visitors can see up to eight species of hummingbirds, which regularly hatch and raise young in the enclosure. Birding on the museum grounds is outstanding, with many species acclimated to people and easy to approach. Common species include the Gila woodpecker, Costa’s hummingbird, cactus wren, curve-billed thrasher, verdin, and white-winged dove.
Special Tips: Fee site
Other Activities: The Museum has a mix of paved and flat dirt trails. The paved trails are universally accessible, and wheelchairs are available to rent. The Desert Loop Trail, a half-mile long loop through natural desert, features large enclosures where visitors have opportunities to see animals in natural conditions.
Ownership: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Board of Trustees
Size: 100 acres
Closest Town: Tucson
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: