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Seeing the Desert Come Alive

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a 98-acre zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, publisher, and art gallery founded in 1952 that we visited on Monday, January 30 with our friends Greg and Tina Meals.

Located just west of Tucson, Arizona, it features two miles (3.2 km) of walking paths traversing 21 acres of desert landscape. It is one of the most visited attractions in Southern Arizona.

We enjoyed an informative one-hour docent guided tour on a short section of the extensive trail system within the outdoor grounds. I was fascinated to learn that the Sonoran desert has five seasons! The Sonoran desert, covering a large part of the southwestern US and Northern Mexico, basically divides its summer into two parts. “Fore-summer”, occurring in May and June, is very hot and very dry. “Summer monsoon season” follows it from July to mid-September and brings the region soaking rains. It is considered the major growing season.

Surprisingly lush by desert standards, the Sonoran Desert is one of the wettest deserts in North America. This is due to the fact that winter is considered a second rainy season. While the precipitation that falls between December and January is generally not as intense as during the monsoon months, it tends to be more widespread. Overall, the region averages between 3 and 12 inches of rain a year. Spring and Fall are generally warm and dry.

Along the way we were able to examine a variety of regional cacti, trees and succulents that live in the desert here in Arizona. Some of the indigenous animals in the museum included a beautiful Mountain Lion, a small herd of Javlinas, which is a peccary, a medium-sized, pig-like hoofed mammal (New World pigs), a Mexican Gray Wolf and a Coyote located in enclosures.

Karen and I were thrilled to get to see Greg and Tina Meal, old friends from Santa Rosa, CA who recently transplanted to Tucson, Arizona. We spent over four hours enjoying the museum, eating lunch and catching up on our new lifestyles.

We would recommend visiting this museum when in the Tucson area. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is beautiful and well laid out. Plan on doing some walking, so wear comfortable shoes and bring a refillable water bottle. Water stations are conveniently located throughout the facility.


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