The best way to understand and appreciate our beautiful Sonoran Desert is to visit the Desert Museum. It’s not a museum exactly, but rather more like a combination botanical garden and zoo. Watch any of the videos provided below for a sneek peek at what to expect while visiting.
Raptor Free Flight Show
It’s the first place we recommend newcomers visit and everyone, adults and children alike, loves this truly unique destination. It’s big and mostly outdoors, so wear your hiking shoes.
The Desert Museum has a coffee bar and two good restaurants. The Ironwood Terraces is a self-serve grill with everything from cheeseburgers and pizzas to vegan wraps and salads.
The Ocotillo Café is fine dining. We suggest you make a reservation. Weather permitting, ask to be seated on the patio.
The drive from Tucson over Gates Pass to the Desert Museum is an unsurpassed scenic drive though the Sonoran Desert. Take your camera. Stop for a grand view from the parking area at the top of the pass.
While you are there:
- Spend a leisurely day visiting the plant and animal exhibits.
- Listen and learn from the knowledgeable docents.
- Go to: “Live and on the Loose” demonstration.
- Enjoy the Art Gallery. Take a Class.
- Don’t Miss the Raptor Free Flight Show!
- Enjoy a good lunch at the cafeteria or Ocotillo Cafe’
- Take in one of the Behind the Scenes Tours
About 2 miles down the road from the Desert Museum is the Saguaro National Park Visitors Center. I know this is odd, but there are two Saguaro National Parks – East & West. In between is Metropolitan Tucson. If you only have time to visit one, go West. Pictured here is an unusual rainy day in April. Most Tucsonans wish we had a few more rainy days. Six inches in spring and six inches during the monsoon season is supposed to be normal. We haven’t had normal in years. We have family living in the Northwest. They just laugh when we talk about our drought. They say they will send us all the water we’re willing to pay for. Suggestion: get directions and a map at the visitors center. Then head out to explore the most exquisite desert in the world. Picnic at the Signal Hill picnic area and walk … Continue reading
This back road is one of our favorites, partly because it’s practically in our back yard and because it’s so indicative of the Sonoran Desert. Here in Saguaro National Park West you will be driving through a forest of giant Saguaros. And, within an easy quarter mile hike, you can get up close and personal with ancient Hohokam petroglyphs. From Tucson, take Speedway west from the I-10 Freeway (A). After a few miles, Speedway merges with Gates Pass Road which takes you over the Pass, down the other side (steep) and eventually to Kinney Road. At Kinney Road, you’ll see a sign for the Desert Museum. Turn right and head for the Desert Museum. Two miles past the Desert Museum is the Red Hills Visitors Center (B). Park and go in. Watch the brief orientation movie, get a map, and ask the Park Ranger or docent about current road conditions … Continue reading
We live in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains. While walking their dogs or hiking nearby, many of our neighbors have seen, if not the actual big cat, then its impressive paw prints in the sand or mud. And while most of us have hiked Sabino Canyon, a relative few claim to have actually seen [...]
To orient new visitors to our magnificent Sonoran Desert, we always recommend they spend some time at our Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This is not a museum in the ordinary sense, but rather a combination botanical garden and zoo. Click on this link to view our four brief videos with several docents at the Desert Museum. Special Events The Desert Museum is a big place, so there’s lots of walking involved. If you are handicapped, they do have wheelchairs and electric scooters available. When you enter, there will be a docent handing out maps and telling visitors the times of special events, such as the incredibly popular Raptor Free Flight program. Behind The Scenes Tours The Desert Museum offers 4 Behind The Scenes Tours that gives visitors a much richer, more in depth experience than general admission. We’ve enjoyed two so far: Walk On The Wild Side and the Warren Aquarium. … Continue reading
On a clear Sunday morning in early February, Neighbor Roy, Ms. Karen, & I arrived at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for our 2nd Behind The Scenes tour, this time of the new Warden Aquarium. Lacey was our guide for our group of 8, including two little boys who looked to be about 4 and 6 [...]
There is a relatively new set of in-depth tours at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum that will delight anyone who wants a closer look at the critters at the museum. If you have been visiting the Desert Museum for years, this is your opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the Museum.
RaVen Bifrost is an independent, professional photographer specializing in Nature, Portraits, Events, and photographic restoration. All of his images here were taken at our Desert Museum. Click here to visit RaVen’s website: Photos by RaVen. … Continue reading
The frogs were sunning themselves in the riparian exhibit at the Desert Museum last week. … Continue reading
Last week, we had friends visiting from Virginia. As we always do with friends and family here for the first time, we recommended they go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s such a great place get an orientation to the geology, plants, and critters of our Sonoran Desert. When they returned, they said that [...]
Video Courtesy: Mike MacNeel The Raptor Free Flight Program at the Desert Museum starts in October when the weather starts to cool down. It usually ends mid-April. They do not fly the birds in the hot weather May through September. … Continue reading
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum needs no introduction but, If you are going to have lunch at the Desert Museum, visit more than once or take advantage of the Gift Shop, it is worthwhile to buy a membership when you first arrive. There is a 10% discount for all members on most purchases, and the coffee is free! … Continue reading
The Desert Museum offers 3 places to dine plus various snack bars around the property. The Coffee Bar in the Gift Shop opens early and offers snacks, coffee, ice cream sandwiches and pastries. If you’re a member, coffee is FREE! The IronWood Terraces is cafeteria style, but don’t let the “cafeteria” label fool you. It offers a wide selection of more than just “cafeteria” food. Good food. Informal. The Ocotillo Cafe is more formal and upscale. Very good! Open Wed – Sunday in season. They serve lunch 11AM – 3PM December – April. Dinner: Saturdays June – August. Do call for reservation: 520-883-2702 … Continue reading