Friday, February 12, 2010

The Spectacular Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Thank you readers for all your comments, emails and pictures of the snow back east!  Brrr.....

I have a question I thought I'd throw out there and see if someone can help.  Some folks like being able to click on the picture so it enlarges for more detailed viewing.  I don't know what I did, but that feature has not be available lately.  They click on the picture and it won't enlarge.  Any suggestions?  --- Thanks for your input.

Now on to the Desert Museum and such....

I worked online all morning (Thursday), then we met our friends Bill and Marty for lunch at In-N-Out Burger.  They are having some work done on their new 40' Itasca Ellipse Class A motorhome and took it in to La Mesa RV get some 'bugs' worked out.
It was good to see them.  They are still at Desert Trails RV Park where we saw them in December.  It was good to catch up with them over lunch.

Next, we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tucson.  It was fabulous!  It is a mix of a zoo, natural history museum and a botanical museum.  It was founded in 1952 and displays plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert which stretches across southern parts of Arizona and California and into the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California Norte.

Our friend Judy is a volunteer there so she was able to get us in as her guests.  :)  I was not ready for the fantastic layout of of this facility.  
The is a map of the grounds at the Desert Museum
The entrance is at the top of the map and we walked through the Cactus Gardens, Desert Grassland, Desert Loop Trail, Cat Canyon and over to the Walk-in Aviary.  Click on an interactive map here:

This is really well done.  It has loop trails out in the desert landscape.
 It is a very pleasant stroll through the desert on a well maintained trail.  The museum has almost two miles of trails on 21 acres.It is wheel chair accessible too!  The trails take you by all the botanical gardens, and plant displays, and animals cages.  
The cages are crafted into the hillside and made into caves with a lot of rocks and natural plants.  You really have to look hard to figure out it is man-made to look like another part of the desert.
It wasn't too long before we came across the cage for the mountain lion.  Sure enough - there it was...

A real mountain lion.  That is about as close as I'd like to come to one.  I didn't realize there were so many plants and birds in the desert. It is nice to have actual names of things besides prickly pear and saguaro cacti.  There are hundreds of varieties and lots of trees and shrubs.
This place has such a great mix of walking trails down through the desert, informational signs on the plants of the desert, and then real animals in their natural habitat.
A real highlight is the Raptor Free Flight Demonstration.  We went to the edge of the trail where the Harris Hawks were being positioned with their handlers.  At the appointed time, they were off!  What a spectacular display!  These bird took off and landed atop nearby Saguaros and mesquite trees.  They flew low over the onlookers to land on their handlers gloved hand, then took off again.  It was really something.

It was really quite a show.  After the Raptor Free Flight show, we continued on with the trail.
Ever hear of a pack of javelinas?  In the lower right hand corner of the collage, there are five or six of them laying on one another taking a siesta.

At the end of our tour, we checked out the birds in the aviary display.
On the way out, got to see a Harris Hawk one last time.  The handler was answering some questions while I snapped photo.
It was a great day at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum.  

Thanks for joining us on a brief tour.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend.  
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  1. The Desert Museum is such an awesome place. When we were in Tucson for the winter we went back several times as there was always something new to see or different lighting for photos.

  2. Sorry, but I don't know why the photos aren't clickable - but I miss that. Not sure why, but the photo at the top of your blog is very slow loading - and I have a new computer with Broadband. I upload my photos directly from my camera into Picasa, then upload them from Picasa to Blogger and I don't downsize them. They are clickable on my blog.

  3. Excellent post! The slide show of the raptors was very cool. We visited this museum after a Life on Wheels conference a few years ago. It was fun "revisitng" it today. Thanks so much!

    Carol & John

  4. We loved this museum! It was fantastic. Glad you got to enjoy it, too.