Day 2 – Tucson, AZ May 20, 2024

Day 2 – Tucson, AZ

We got a decent night’s sleep, though I woke up at 2 a.m. AZ time, which is 5 a.m. NC time, and had a hard time going back to sleep. I managed to doze back off and we got up around 5:30 a.m. I imagine by tomorrow we should be on a west coast schedule. Had coffee outside and made a big breakfast as we were heading to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and didn’t know how long we would be there.

The museum interprets the Sonoran Desert, one of the most diverse deserts on earth, and the surrounding biological communities. It has 21 acres with two miles of walking paths through various habitats, 230 animal species, 1200 types of plants, and 56,000 individual specimens. We saw a variety of things including rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, toads (all encased!!!), as well as a mountain lion, Mexican gray wolves, the back end of a mule deer (running away), ocelot, and a coyote. They also have a free-flight aviary as well as a hummingbird aviary. We only saw two hummingbirds as the others must have been snoozing. It was a great place and there was a lot to see.

We grabbed a quick bite at their café and split a Mexican bowl with all the fixings. We headed out after that and decided to go to the Tucson Botanical Gardens. The Tucson Botanical Gardens (TBG) is a 5.5-acre collection of 20 gardens in the heart of Tucson. TBG was selected as number four in USA Today’s 10 best Readers’ Choice awards for Best Botanical Garden in 2023. The gardens include the Cactus and Succulent Garden, Barrio Garden, Children’s Garden, Herb Garden and many more showing the diversity of plants that can thrive in the Sonoran Desert. There are tropical butterflies from around the world that are featured in the Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion from October-May. We got lucky as that exhibit ends in May. The cacti, of which there are so many varieties, are stunning! So glad we decided to check it out!

We wanted to cook in tonight so headed to the local Whole Foods and picked up some skirt steak, potatoes and onions, and some green beans. We enjoyed a glass of sangria while making dinner and chilled out for the rest of the evening.

Interesting facts: Moths land with their wings open, butterflies do not, so a way to tell the difference between them. The Seguaro cactus is native to the Sonoran Desert and the blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona. Gila and Flicker woodpeckers make their nests in the Seguaro cacti. They pick away at a spot and then dig out part of the inside. They wait for it to dry, which can take up to 4-6 weeks, and then use it as their nest. (Told to us by a docent at the park.)

Tomorrow will be hiking and an evening bird walk. We will need to get an early start to avoid the heat/sun as much as possible. Night all!

This was one of the scenic pull offs on our way to the Desert Museum. It’s neat to see the cacti popped up everywhere like trees!
Can you say ouch?????!!!!
This was in the parking lot of the Desert Museum! Was really hoping we would not run into any of them, and we got lucky!
A female mountain lion taking a nap. Sorry for the reflection but of course there was glass between us. She did roll over and yawn, took a peek at us and then continued with her nap.
Two gray wolves.
Love all the shapes/sizes of the cacti. These are Saguaro cacti and when you see ones with arms, it usually means they are least 65 years old. They can live over 100 years.
The ocelot hiding in the shade and we caught it mid lick!
These are javelina, they are herbivores and are from the peccary family, which means they are pig-like, but are not pigs.
A young coyote taken a nap in a bit of shade.
A mourning dove. Love the blue eyes!
A heron that was hoping we would not find their hiding place.
Gambel quails
The one picture I got of a hummingbird in the hummingbird aviary.
Our Mexican bowl for lunch – was yummy!
A Mexican sunflower, love these!
This is a succulent wall at the Tucson Botanical Gardens – GORGEOUS!
One of the many orchids we saw in the butterfly house.
This is an owl butterfly.
An Atlas moth, one of the largest moths in the world. They only live about 2-3 weeks.
The other side of an owl butterfly.
Can’t remember this one, but love the detail!!!!
Saw this one on one of the trails in the garden.
Called an “old-man” cactus due the fuzzy hair on it.
A group of old men, lol!
The top of a barrel cactus.
Scroll to Top