A Day With Desert Wildlife -> Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Big Horn Sheep at the Desert Museum
Big Horn Sheep at the Desert Museum

Everyone told us that if you only do ONE outing in Tucson, then the Desert Museum is the place to go. Despite our week of utter laziness I decided this was reason enough to boondock for a few days on the South end of Tucson and drag our rested backsides out for a visit. After all, I love nature and I needed to blog about at least ONE sight before I left this town.

So a few days ago we parked our rig at a pretty decent boondocking location just south of the museum (fear not, all will be revealed soon) and rested ourselves well and early for our trip out.

Mohave Rattlesnake...eeeeeek!
Mohave Rattlesnake…eeeeeek!
A desert bee loaded with pollen
A desert bee loaded with pollen
A hummingbird (don't ask me which kind)
A hummingbird (don’t ask me which kind)
A Mexican Fireleg Tarantula...double eeeeek!
A Mexican Fireleg Tarantula…double eeeeek!

Now I should tell you up-front that I’m not a huge fan of zoos in general. The notion of wild animals in cages always rubs me the wrong way and most zoos leave me somewhat nauseous. But there are a few (a very, very few) select zoos which have made me feel differently. The San Diego Safari Park is one of them…and after a day a the Arizona Desert Museum I can now say this is another.

These spots go the extra mile to create enclosures that are as natural and spacious as possible (in fact the enclosures at Desert Museum are quite spectacular), PLUS they do a ton of conservation & education efforts and only keep animals that (for the most part) are rehabilitated and cannot survive in the wild. Now THAT is the kind of zoo I can get into. Pair it up with some really great docents (just about every volunteer we met on the trail was chock-full of interesting facts and information) and 21 acres of open desert area and you’ve got a pretty neat combo.

Besides the animals, grounds and desert gardens there is one other reason to go to Desert Museum and that is for their shows, especially their twice-daily Raptor Flight. I knew about this beforehand and had literally planned our entire visit around the 11AM (or so I thought) show. We arrived promptly at 10:30AM only to find out the show was at 10AM. DUH!

Despite having checked the website religiously beforehand my brain had somehow deceived me and registered the wrong showtimes (they are 10AM & 2PM in case you need to know). If you want to see how wonderful this show is, just take a look at the pics from Box Canyon Blog who experienced it a few days ago (and yes, I’m still banging my head at missing it).

Despite zonking out on the main show we had a pretty awesome morning at the museum and finished our day with a wonderfully relaxing afternoon visit & chat with the Ducks followed by a famous Sue Banks Margarita for sundown (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you can get the low-down HERE). The bottom line is, if you’re in Tucson DO go to the Desert Museum…and DON’T miss the Raptor Show :)

P.S. I highly recommend buying the Tucson Passport for anyone who’s interested in the sights around the SE AZ region. The $18 Passport gets you tons of 2-for-1 deals plus free entries or discounts for all the major sightseeing spots the area. You can buy it at several locations or just download the app onto your phone.