Yesterday was Part One of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and today I want to show you some of the animals here and some more of the desert scenery! Stay on the path! Remember 85% of this museum is outdoors!
After moving to Tucson in 1944, William H. Carr founded the museum in 1952 with his good friend Arthur Park, a conservationist and editor of Nature Magazine. Carr found a “gross lack of knowledge (about the Senoran Desert) among the local populace, as well as in the national mind.” Carr had earlier founded the Bear Mountain Trailside Museums and Nature Trails in New York State, which was affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History. He developed his ideas of working with native plants and animals to create a regionally focused collection.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum site selected was 12 miles west of Tucson in the Tucson Mountains — much further from the Tucson of 1952 — with no paved roads and over Gates Pass. The site was mostly natural desert with a few buildings, known as the Mountain House, originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. These structures are still in use today as part of the Museum’s entry. First, a peak of the beautiful desert landscape where I don’t think a lot has changed since 1952!
Have you ever seen a bluer sky? This is 0730 in the morning! You need to get here when the museum opens so you can see any blooming flowers, which only open at night and close at daybreak!
This is the shaded area in case you need to sit a spell! And it is one of my favorite photos!
There are three live animal presentations. They are Live and (sort of) on the Loose, revealing misunderstood venomous reptiles, Fur, Feather and Fangs, featuring native mammals, reptiles and birds, and Raptor Free Flight, where visitors watch from the flight path as native birds of prey whiz by your head. One special presentation features Harris Hawks, the only raptors in the world that hunt as a family group using strategy like wolves. Most of the photos of the animals were taken when hubby hurriedly would spot one as they were moving off! They all blend into their habitats really well!
Coatis are part of the raccoon family and share a slender head with an elongated, flexible, slightly upward-turned nose, small ears, dark feet, and a long, non-gripping tail used for balance and signaling.
And…… more photos of the desert garden! I know there are several, but they are soooooo unusual and beautiful!
Sometimes you had to get off the path to take a better picture! There are snakes here too, I presume! The gravel in the center is THE PATH!
The Teddy Bear Cholla has a height of 3 to 5 feet with densely packed, especially sharp, and strongly barbed spines. The spines are so thick that the living surface of cacti can hardly be seen. The older and lower branches turn black and fall off. The flowers are yellow-green and bloom in the spring. During the cooler months (winter) the joints are detached by a slight touch of passing animals or a strong wind. The animals transport the plant considerable distances before it falls off. The cholla does not contain seeds, so it reproduces almost entirely by this asexual process.
And finally this was the early morning sunrise on the way to the desert! Isn’t it just breathtaking? The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is open 0730-1700, March through September and 0830-1700 from October to February. It also features two restaurants that open later in the day, the Ocotillo Cafe, for fine dining, and the Ironwood Terraces with a food court setting. NO BOTTLED WATER IS SOLD, but there are water stations to fill up your canteen (or water bottle) located throughout the grounds. There are also two gift shops! I hope you have enjoyed the visit to the desert!