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Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert

I love the desert. There is something about the sparse vegetation, the way the cactus rise up from such a dry soil, and the fact that even in this harsh environment so many living things flourish. When I first heard of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum I knew I had to go. It’s my kind of place, providing education about the animals and the plant life.

Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
The cute little javelinas welcome visitors to the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum.

We arrived at the museum a few hours before it opened. We were meeting friends and they were picking up breakfast burritos for us all to have a picnic breakfast before we started our exploration. The museum offers covered picnic tables, and we had the whole place to ourselves.

We weren’t early enough for sunrise, but the early light was spreading and it enchanted us with its golden view over the saguaro-laden landscape, since we were smack dab in the middle of the western part of the Saguaro National Park. Going through the park was how we were going to get some hiking in saguaro done, so we needed to fortify ourselves before beginning.

Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
The saguaro stand tall in the morning light.
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
Coyote with pups.
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
I was ready to shed a few layers, too, after walking around in the late morning sun.

Finished with our picnic, we entered the Sonora Desert grounds and right away were greeted with one of many of the amazing bronze sculptures found throughout. The first two were of a javelina (wild pig) family and of the iguanas. A major feature of the park, these bronze sculptures were everywhere. There were very obvious large ones, but there were also, almost hidden, small ones, like hummingbirds and insects. It was one of the highlights, looking for and finding all the sculptures.

Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
Don’t get into a staring contest with this guy, you’ll loose every time.
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
So much color and fragrance! Is this really the desert?

The park has so many options and animal exhibits that it is difficult to decide where to go first. There are enclosures for every kind of Sonora desert animal from snakes to birds to insects, and at each site there is a docent ready to regale you with information as well as personal stories of the animals that live there, even letting the children feel the skin or hold the horns, as well as touching some of the live animals.

Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
Some of the statues are easy to spot. This one’s probably a little frightening for the tiny critters skittering around after dark.
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
Although not an official animal of the museum, this little chipmunk still kept us mesmerized.
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
We were so lucky, we were there after some heavy rains and cactus were starting to bloom!

One of the exhibits is a hummingbird enclosure and those little guys are very territorial. They are not that scared of humans, and we had more than one stare us down making sure we stayed on the path.

At the theater, we watched an educational program about porcupines, parrots, skunks, and chukwila lizards where the kids got to come up and meet the “cast” afterwards.

Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
All of the greenery and blooms were quite a shock.
Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert
After walking in the heat for two hours, we were ready for the air-conditioned theater.
Take your kids on a desert safari! Click here to find out more!

Getting there: Exit I-10 at Speedway Blvd and head West on Speedway for twelve miles. Turn right onto Kinney road and drive another 2.5 miles to the museum.

Tips:

  • Go as early as possible. Preferably arrive before opening. The heat will be less harsh and the animals are more active.
  • Bring water bottles. It is the desert and you are walking all day long in the heat. Thankfully there are water fountains throughout where you can refill your water bottles.
  • Wear hats and smother yourself with sunscreen.
  • The path is wide enough for strollers and wheelchairs, but there is a fair amount of walking and stairs. Remember to take lots of breaks, especially under the shade.
  • And if you want to do some more hiking, check out the Romero Pools!

Have you ever been to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum?  Any tips?

Pin the Desert Museum for later!

Deadly or Delicate? Exploring the Sonora Desert

Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

Ha, that "unofficial" chipmunk is just too adorable! What an interesting place to explore. I've never been to any desert before! Thanks for sharing :)

Corinne Vail

Friday 3rd of February 2017

Lauren, It's a pretty cool place, especially for kids...but really for everyone.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

Kerri, You should be able to see quite of few chipmunks...they're everywhere. Enjoy!

Cathy

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

Gorgeous photos, love that cute hummingbird! I want to do a road trip to head out west- this makes me want to go even more!

Corinne Vail

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

Cathy, You will really enjoy the west...just long driving times between awesome sights!

Gearoid McSweeney

Wednesday 1st of February 2017

I love the images- the beautiful plants and the interesting wildlife. Makes me wish I was there rather than stuck inside on a cold northern Italian night.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

Geraroid, I don't feel too sorry for you. Italy's good any time of year!

Carmen's Luxury Travel

Wednesday 1st of February 2017

That cactus is GORGEOUS. All of your photos are really stunning. Great post, thanks for sharing :)

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 1st of February 2017

Thanks Carmen. It's easy to take stunning photos when you have such a beautiful place to photograph!