Visit the desert in summer? Are we crazy? Maybe a little. My grandson Chris is visiting for a week so we decided that Tucson would have some interesting things to see and do. On last year's visit, we saw a number of things in Northern Arizona. We have lucked out weather wise. Tucson is getting a wonderful monsoon season so we've had thundershowers every day plus clouds that cool down the temperature for part of the day too.
One of the must-sees on our list was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. During the summer they are open on Saturday night. We went over in the late afternoon, saw most of the exhibits. The museum is part zoo, part botanical garden. We got glimpses of the mountain lion and bobcat. The ocelot was asleep but visible.
The bear was out, but behind a bush. The coyote posed for us. The grey fox was asleep but in view; the bob cat's back and ears were visible. We could not see the Mexican wolves. We also saw no sign of the coatis.
After following the paths through the mountain woodlands, desert grasslands and riparian areas, we went to the restaurant for dinner. The Saturday night program this week was an astronomy program but clouds meant no stars were visible. Chris helped make a comet out of dry ice and then we went back to see some of the animals to see if they had come out.
We should have brought a flashlight, but there were enough others, plus small lights along the paths, that we were ok. The two Mexican wolves were out. The ocelot was still sleeping, but had turned over on his other side. The bob cat was out and about and the bear sat huffing and puffing in plain view. He looked like he needed to be on a diet. We saw a burrowing owl, who did not like lights shined on him. He scurried behind a bush each time a flashlight illuminated him. No sign of the coatis. We had missed the prairie dogs earlier, and they apparently went to sleep when the sun went down.
In addition to these, there are plenty of birds, reptiles and fish. A very interesting place.
Chris enjoyed the whole experience but one of his favorite animals was a baby jack rabbit, hoping around on the path, free and wild. Go figure!
There are options for RVers close by. The Gilbert Ray Campground is just a few miles to the south. Bar J is a small park at 4340 S Palant Dr, off Kinney, then Bopp. It only has 13 spaces but a nice place. Snyder Hill is off Ajo Highway and a good place for boondocking. And, there are all sorts of RV parks and resorts if you want to park your RV and then drive your tow or toad to the museum. Just don't take an RV over Gates Pass. It is a short cut, but not suitable for RVs. Take Ajo Highway to Kinney Road.
It was a tad warm, but quite doable. It's a great place to take visitors - old and young. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Photos by George Bruzenak