Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Part One

I was so excited to finally visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum when we were in Tucson last June...
Unfortunately as we were getting ready to check out of our hotel that morning (this one) I recognized the early signs of a migraine. I tried to stop it, but nope, it ran into me like a freight train.

I loaded up with water and put on my sunglasses and tried to make the best of it. Oh, and BTW, it was 102 that day. And I dare you to find shade...

Saguaro skeleton.

Saguaros as far as the eye can see...

Looking at my photos I'm surprised things are in focus, snapping pictures with your sunglasses on (it was just too bright to take them off with a migraine) is not a recipe for success.

A little background: "The mission of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert. Unlike most museums, about 85% of the experience is outdoors...The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium."

  • 21 interpreted acres with two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats
  • 230 animal species
  • 1,200 types of plants — 56,000 individual specimens

"Founded in 1952, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is widely recognized throughout the world as a model institution for innovative presentation and interpretation of native plants and animals featured together in ecological exhibits. The Museum is regularly listed as one of the top ten zoological parks in the world due to its unique approach in interpreting the complete natural history of a single region (in our case this is the Sonoran Desert and adjacent ecosystems). This represents a significant achievement, as the Museum’s collections and size are smaller than many of its counterparts. Not a “museum” in the usual sense, it is an unparalleled composite of plant, animal, and geologic collections with the goal of making the Sonoran Desert accessible, understandable, and valued." (source)

It was a beautiful place and I hope to go back again someday when I can really enjoy it.

As I said, we were there in June. As the sign says the Saguaro were definitely producing fruit. We'd seen flowers a couple days earlier at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, but here... was all about the fruit.

Lots of fruit.

Before I discovered the Cactus Garden I encountered a snake spread across the entrance path. I'm not sure what it was, but it was in no hurry to move on, and didn't seem to mind me or the other visitors that came up on it. Sorry, no photos.

Love these planters.

There were labels on many of the plants, but I didn't do a great job of recording them. It was just all about enjoying the beauty.

Vine on a Saguaro! That's a new one for me.

The elusive shade, sort of.

I love the strawberry pot filled with colorful cactus.

Look at those super-long spikes!

Hmmm... palm trees off in the distance...

Closer, but still on the other side of the pathway. I'll get there eventually.

Pretty bird! I saw a lot of animals in the park but didn't try to photograph most of them, I just enjoyed seeing them.

This place really was magical, like Boyce Thompson I loved how the cultivated areas ran right into the natural. The road to the museum zig-zaged through hundreds of Saguaro and the view through the hills was breathtaking.

The building is a restaurant with bathrooms and water bottle refilling stations, much needed at this point!

Loved these, and actually sat in them for a minute, until they started to burn my bum.

Now I was under the palm trees!

This area was a welcome respite from the open desert area.

And there were several red dragonflies zooming about.

In tomorrow's "Part Two" we'll look at the Agave Garden, the one place I did manage to pull it together and focus on capturing names. These beauties weren't part of that garden and weren't labeled. I think they must be a variety of A. parryi, but I could be wrong.

Come back tomorrow for more sun and spikes!

Weather Diary, Jan 30: Hi 50, Low 31/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2019 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I'm so glad you finally got to visit. Bummer about the migraine. But the fact that you still went shows that you're HARDCORE :-).

    The NOID agave towards the end of your post is Agave parryi var. huachucensis.

    Looking forward to the Agave Garden, esp. since I was just there myself.

    1. There was no way I was going to miss the place!

  2. More sun and spikes sound divine, especially since they're talking about us getting the coldest temperatures of the season next week. The five season sign was great! I hope you get to return someday without a migraine so that you can enjoy the museum even more.

    1. I'm not thrilled about this turn to winter it sounds like we'll be taking...

  3. Your pictures suggest you were having a great day. I totally enjoyed them, so hope they did not bring back painful memories.

    1. Actually when I pulled them up to start editing it was like I was right back there and started feeling ill. I worked through it though and was able to enjoy them.

  4. You are one tough cookie to walk into that heat with a pounding migraine. Your photos are nonetheless impressive and I hope you enjoyed them after-the-fact as much as I did this morning.

    1. After a few uncomfortable moments yes, I was able to enjoy them. Glad you did too!

  5. Sorry to hear your visit was dampened by a migraine, that stinks. But what a beautiful place with so many wonderful specimens. Hard to pick a favorite!

    1. It was amazing, if you like that kind of thing...and you know I do!

  6. You must have really wanted to see this place to go there with a migraine in the heat. Migraines are one reason I have become such a terrible traveler. When I was young and had more energy I would often push through despite the pain, at least until it got to the point where I just HAD to lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room. Back then a good night's sleep would banish the headache, but nowadays they last for days and days. You did get some nice shots despite the migraine and the dark glasses.

    1. I just decided to make the best of it. If staying in the cool dark hotel had been an option I might have chosen it, but since after this stop we were then on the road for 4+ hours to Las Cruces, and an even longer day with Andrew's extended family, well...

  7. You have some fantastic pictures here, no migraine is evident in any of them. The idea of this mostly outdoor museum is so appealing to me; it's taking a national park to the next level. So many gorgeous blooming cacti. I believe the little red bird is a Cardinal.

  8. Must have been a brutal day for you. Sorry to hear that you could not enjoy the place to its fullest. I hope you get back there and have a perfect visit next time.

    The drive out there from Tucson through the Saguaro forest is almost better than the DM itself. So gorgeous!

  9. Dear Jardin Peligrosa,
    Never take medical advice from cacti or strangers. But, as a fellow sufferer I must tell you that now there are many products available to help with migraines. But the first rule is to go to a headache specialist *not* your regular doctor. You probably have done that already, pls. pardon intrusion. But, I must tell you I had cluster migraines for 30 years and they finally have gone away, except for the occasional aura. Last time I was in the supermarket, in front of the chicken case and I noticed that I was slowly going blind in my left eye. I tried to act normal, so no one would call security, but it lasted about 20 minutes, and when all was over there were no beautiful cacti, just chicken thighs and breasts. Not exciting as your photos.


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