The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum came highly recommended by a few of our readers, and it's one of the top attractions in the Tucson area. So, we decided to check it out.
We drove the 10 miles or so from where we had been parked for free at the Casino of the Sun, into the Tucson Mountain Park, just west of Tucson. From there, it was about 5 miles on a narrow paved road to the entrance way of the museum.
Heading into the Tucson Mountain Park.
The parking lot was busy! But then, it was a bit of a Monday holiday for some people because it was President's Day. We forgot about that, so perhaps we didn't plan that very well. But, the RV parking section was fairly quiet. We backed into a decent spot, and had an early lunch before heading inside.
As we were eating, we noticed cars and SUV's and pickup trucks begin to park in the RV section because the people were too lazy to park further away. Yes, the parking lot was busy, but if I were an RV'er who showed up and there weren't any spots because regular vehicles had parked there, I would not have been a happy camper. They need to regulate that a little better, but perhaps it's not often that busy.
The regular adult price is $19.95. I thought that was a little steep for a non profit entity, but we had a two for one coupon that made it reasonable.
You can purchase a Tucson attractions book for $18. Highly recommended if you're going to be in the area for any length of time.
We went straight to the help desk and asked what special attractions were on the go. There was an auditorium presentation at 12:30pm, so we headed there first. Then, there was a raptor bird open air flight show at 2:30pm, and she warned that it would be very busy.
The auditorium show turned out to be a full house.
Our speaker Ed, with a local quail that had been raised at the museum.
He then brought out Roo, the pocupine.
Roo loves corn!
It was a good show, and Ed was a good speaker. They brought out the quail, the porcupine, a macaw, and a lizard that only lives on an island in the Sea of Cortez. Interesting show, and a worthwhile part of our visit!
One of the very few birds that will use it's feet to eat!
From there, we wandered the different exhibits waiting for the 2:30pm raptor flight show. We actually passed by where the raptor show was taking place, but there was no way I was standing in the growing crowd for that long of a wait. We wandered over to the aviary to look at the birds.
Lots of nice desert scenery to view.
An interesting sculpture display.
Lots of pretty birds. Not the same as seeing them in the wild though.
"You lookin' at me?"
This little hummingbird was fun to watch.
It's only about the size of my thumb.
Since being in Africa and seeing so many animals out in the wild, I don't have much interest in zoos anymore. I think the displays are fine for birds, insects, and reptiles, but I don't like seeing mammals on display in relatively small enclosures. I just don't agree with it. The animals don't seem at all happy. And especially for the animals who's life it is to roam, they don't get anywhere near enough space.
I love the photo of the bobcat, however it's sure not the same thrill that you get taking photos of animals in their natural environment.
The mountain lion. Just another day at the zoo. He looked bored.
There was a coyote enclosure with a lone coyote who paced the same path the whole time we watched him. He looked agitated, and it's probably the way he looks all the time. The path was well worn from his daily pacing. At the wolf enclosure, it looked the same, although the wolf was sleeping when we were there.
The bear enclosure was empty because the bear has recently passed away. They're trying to get another one.
More desert scenery.
A bird at it's cactus nest.
Closer to 2:30pm, we took a spot at the overlook area to view the raptor show. Better than standing with the crowd, although we didn't get to hear much of what was being said.
The crowd at the raptor show.
A Harris's hawk.
I don't know how they do it, but the hawks fly free during the display. I expect they've been raised to do this, but it's still amazing how they don't simply take off into the wild. Even though I wasn't able to get a decent photo of them flying, I did get two pretty good shots.
They have a very stern look on their faces!
Even though we weren't that close, it was again a worthwhile display.
From there, it was off to the hummingbird aviary.
A tiny hummingbird.
This one, in her tiny nest.
And another, keeping her eggs warm.
We loved watching the hummingbirds.
Despite my personal opinion regarding the mammals, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is very well done and it's a good way to spend four hours or so learning about the various plants, birds, animals, and reptiles that inhabit the desert. I still think its a little steep if you pay the full price of $19.95, however if you can take advantage of a half price coupon it's then a reasonably inexpensive outing.
From there, we drove down to Justin's Diamond J RV Park.
Huh? Us, at an RV park?
Yep...we wanted to visit Janie and John from Flamingo on a Stick and this is where they're parked up for the month. It was nearby anyhow, and we can dry camp here for $10 a night. We pulled in to pay, and the lady at the office is Vietnamese. Her name is Christine, and she had just finished cooking some spring rolls, and gave us a couple to try. They were delicious!
And, we can use the facilities and we're about due to get laundry done again too.
We sat and had happy hour with Janie and John, and today we'll go for a local hike with them.