Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – Tucson, AZ – Part 4 – 20208 min read time

The macro workshop I was attending was completed but I had decided to stay in Arizona for a couple more days. I wanted to revisit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum that I had visited the last time I was…

in Arizona. That visit was very memorable as I saw my first wild coyote in the parking lot as we were leaving late in the day! They call it a “museum” but it is a zoological and botanical park sitting out in the desert amongst the mountains.

The drive out from Tucson is not far but it is up into the mountains. The road is paved but narrow, curvy and steep in a few spots. But the drive is worth it when you see what is at the end the road!

Details from Wikipedia

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a 98-acre (40 ha) zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, publisher, and art gallery founded in 1952. Located just west of Tucson, Arizona, it features two miles (3.2 km) of walking paths traversing 21 acres (8.5 ha) of desert landscape. It is one of the most visited attractions in Southern Arizona.

The nonprofit organization focuses on the interpretation of the natural history, plants, and animals of the Sonoran Desert. The museum is home to more than 230 animal species and 1,200 varieties of plants. It is open every day through the year, and hosts nearly 400,000 visitors annually, including visitors from abroad.

The museum is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a member of the American Alliance of Museums, and the American Public Gardens Association.

My Visit

Coyote – Captive

Upon entering the reception area I checked with a volunteer and was told that they were about to start the free-flight raptor demonstration. So I made my way down into the desert to that section.

The keepers/trainers brought out several different birds, all of which were free to fly about the area.


There were perches strategically placed on the area and the birds flew from perch to perch with a signal from the trainers.

Great Horned Owl

The perches were pretty close so I was able to get some great images.

Feriginous Hawk

I tried catching them in flight but they were flying too short of a distance and too low. So I had to settle for “birds on a stick”, not one of my favorite ways to shoot birds! But these birds were beautiful so I could make an exception this time, LOL!

Crested Cara Cara

Since we were out in the open I noticed other birds flitting around. I watched as a Cactus Wren was checking out the perches as well.

Cactus Wren

The Red-tailed Hawk was the only bird to fly off. The trainers told us they let her go off and fly in the updrafts and she occasionally does some hunting.

Red-tailed Hawk

She flew so far that we could hardly see her. But with some minor hand-wringing by the trainers and some prolonged signaling they got her to come back.

They have many other animals that would be seen in the desert.

Prairie Dog
Black Bear

My favorite stop was the Hummingbird House. It is fairly large and there are some beautiful plants that support some even more beautiful hummingbirds.

The hummingbirds are very used to people so many went about their lives not concerned that I was close by making images as fast as I could.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is surrounded by some interesting landscape views as well.

In addition to the animals and landscape, there are a lot of desert plants. I found a few that were different or more compelling than even what I had seen at the Tanque Verde Ranch or the Tucson Botanical Gardens. So I was able to continue my macro shooting practice here as well.

They have a large cave-like setup for the rocks and minerals that are found in the area. The lighting was such that I could not get good images but it was still very interesting.

They also have a Reptile/ Amphibian house and Aquarium. The lighting in these areas was not great for photos but I enjoyed seeing these desert animals and fish as well.

They have a large and diverse gift shop. From rocks to t-shirts and jewelry, I spent about an hour or so just wandering around there.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-see when you are in the Tucson area. Be prepared for the short mountain drive and a lot of walking with some moderate inclines through the park. You will be thrilled with what you can see while you walk about in the “desert”!

Oh! There was no coyote in the parking lot this time!

For more details on Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum please check out their website.

For larger versions of the images please click on the images above or visit my Gallery for these and other images from this visit.

My final stop in Arizona was the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Watch for my next post!

That is all for now.


Spread the love