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Filed under: Nature & Wildlife, RV Home School, State & National Parks

Exploring Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

February 8, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

girl looking at rattlesnake in zoo exhibit

Emma gets up close (enough) to a rattlesnake

Our family has been spending this winter traveling the southern part of the United States in our r.v.  We are using this opportunity to travel to learn more about our country, and are having a terrific time camping and exploring together.

One of the most intriguing places that we have visited so far on our trip this winter, has been the Sonoran Desert Museum, located just north of Tucson, AZ inside (but not part of) the Saguaro National Park.   Hailing from Montana, the desert was new to us in every aspect.  The SDM was a wonderful educational experience for our entire family, and it was FUN!

The SDM encompasses 21 acres, and is home to a world-renowned desert animal zoo and beautiful botanical gardens.  There are both a coffee house and a restaurant on site, and members get free coffee and/or tea! :)

The museum has 4 separate live animal presentations: (no additional charge)

~Live and on the Loose, featuring elusive rattlesnakes, gila monsters, and/or bearded lizards.

great horned owl

one of the great horned owls that flew for a Raptor Free Flight during our visit.

~Running Wild, showcases a variety of live desert animals that fly over the audience or walk around on the presentation tables looking for treats.

~Raptor Free Flights - has 2 separate shows; the variety of bird in the a.m. show varies every day, and the afternoon show features Harris Hawks.  Both shows were exceptionally interesting as the birds fly so near the audience that you often have to duck out of the way!  And keep your camera ready even after the show - I was so busy listening to the keeper talk that I missed some great pics of her feeding this owl a mouse!

We attended all 4 presentations, over 2 separate visits, and enjoyed them all; each is unique, educational and interesting, and a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals.

Some of our favorite places within the museum were the aviarys, the javelina enclosure, and the reptiles and invertebrates building.  While we were checking out the beaver’s underground den, we noticed a huge spider on the floor – it looked like something that should have been in an exhibit, and we were all intrigued by it’s enormous size *shudder* – we kept a close eye on it’s location until we were out of that building!   We loved the hummingbird house – the hummers would fly close to the kids, and the aviary loaned out charts for identifying the different species.  We also liked all the animals being shown off by the docents (trained volunteers) throughout the grounds.

This was such a laid-back and kid-friendly place, and an excellent location for photographing desert plants and animals!  We ended up spending 2 days there before we left the area, and hope to return again next fall (preferably before our membership expires!).

desert view

desert view from near SDM

With a family of 13, we love the flexibility that we are afforded with our r.v.!  We have the flexibility to stop and visit places that we come across (like the SDM), we enjoy the freedom to change our travel itinerary (without making/canceling reservations for 3 hotel rooms), and we love being able to come back to our own beds (and know who slept in them last)!  If you are out and about with your ‘vacation home on wheels’, we would encourage you to check out the Sonoran Desert Museum - you just may park it for an additional night and visit for more than one day too!

Search for an RV park for your visit, at Woodall’s.


4 Responses to “Exploring Arizona’s Sonoran Desert”
  1. Denise N. Crew says:

    Oh you were very brave w/ a spider on the loose. I think I would have had to visit another exhibit.

  2. Debbie Block says:

    We absolutely love the Sonoran Desert Museum. We have visited 5 or 6 times and it never gets boring but is just plain fun and is a great place to just take a nice walk. I’ll bet your weather was great while you were there, too.

  3. Debbie Block says:

    PS Emma is a beautiful child!

  4. Chester Gross says:

    The Sonoran Desert Museum is great. Words do not do it justice.

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