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A Center of Nature, Art & Culture in Tucson’s Desert Corner

A Center of Nature, Art & Culture in Tucson’s Desert Corner

Tohono Chul Park is a 49-acre natural desert preserve in Northwest Tucson. Hidden off a busy corner, the Park is a beautiful, nearby oasis that demonstrates so many of our region's wonders. I visit it often in the spring and summer. The Park trails, covered ramadas, shops, galleries and Tea Room offer many nooks and crannies that are great for a springtime ramble or a shady summer respite.

I usually start off around 11:30 and head to the Tea Room for an early lunch. I ask for a table in the shade of the back courtyard, where I'm serenaded by an assortment of hummingbirds and other wildlife. I order lightly -- a salad and a frosty glass of prickly pear lemonade.

Refreshed, I head off the Park front gate. Armed with my water bottle, sunscreen and walking shoes, I'll take the Park map and visit a few favorite nature trails, plus the exhibit halls and shops to complete a full and enjoyable afternoon visit.

I wind my way up the Main Trail, past the Overlook Ramada and a fabulous malachite/azurite stone specimen donated by a local mine. When I reach the Exhibit House I continue through its gate to the Spanish Courtyard - gorgeously shaded by ironwood and pomegranate trees. I stay here for a spell and admire the details of the Exhibit House hacienda which once house the local Wilson family, who created this Park for the community to enjoy.

I continue on the trail, passing a garden and impressive "forest" of cholla bushes. I keep going on the trail until I reach the demonstration garden, which houses a riparian (from latin word ripa meaning shore or bank) habitat. Almost completely shaded by ash sycamore and mesquite, this garden is a beautiful celebration of native trees, plants and wildlife. The small spring contains minnos, and an enclosure nearby houses two resident desert tortoise plus some spiny lizards. I catch a glimpse of one tortoise and enjoy listening to the birds and the stream.

If I were looking for more adventure or activity in an afternoon, I could choose from many other cool options around the Park. Yet today I just head back to the Exhibit House - where I find a fantastic exhibit on insects -a wonderful artistic interpretation of creepy crawlies through sculpture, painting, photography, jewelry and fiber arts. You should check the Park's website (http://www.tohonochulpark.org) before you visit to get the current art show exhibitions.

I have time to stop at LaGaleria Museum shop on this one visit, where I browse an exceptional collection of southwest-inspired books, jewelry and pottery. On my way out I also stop by the greenhouse and the La Entrada gift shop. I love this shop for its bazaar of desert-inspired goodies, particularly its locally-authored children's books. I pick up an activity packet for a family member who is curious about the desert.

There's no doubt that Tohono Chul Park is a great local Tucson treasure that teaches us about our native plants and wildlife in a natural setting. There's a dose of art and culture, too! See you at the Park - It's a true Tucson gem! Check it out at: Tohono Chul Park is a 49-acre natural desert preserve in Northwest Tucson. Hidden off a busy corner, the Park is a beautiful, nearby oasis that demonstrates so many of our region's wonders. I visit it often in the spring and summer. The Park trails, covered ramadas, shops, galleries and Tea Room offer many nooks and crannies that are great for a springtime ramble or a shady summer respite.

I usually start off around 11:30 and head to the Tea Room for an early lunch. I ask for a table in the shade of the back courtyard, where I'm serenaded by an assortment of hummingbirds and other wildlife. I order lightly -- a salad and a frosty glass of prickly pear lemonade.

Refreshed, I head off the Park front gate. Armed with my water bottle, sunscreen and walking shoes, I'll take the Park map and visit a few favorite nature trails, plus the exhibit halls and shops to complete a full and enjoyable afternoon visit.

I wind my way up the Main Trail, past the Overlook Ramada and a fabulous malachite/azurite stone specimen donated by a local mine. When I reach the Exhibit House I continue through its gate to the Spanish Courtyard - gorgeously shaded by ironwood and pomegranate trees. I stay here for a spell and admire the details of the Exhibit House hacienda which once house the local Wilson family, who created this Park for the community to enjoy.

I continue on the trail, passing a garden and impressive "forest" of cholla bushes. I keep going on the trail until I reach the demonstration garden, which houses a riparian (from latin word ripa meaning shore or bank) habitat. Almost completely shaded by ash sycamore and mesquite, this garden is a beautiful celebration of native trees, plants and wildlife. The small spring contains minnos, and an enclosure nearby houses two resident desert tortoise plus some spiny lizards. I catch a glimpse of one tortoise and enjoy listening to the birds and the stream.

If I were looking for more adventure or activity in an afternoon, I could choose from many other cool options around the Park. Yet today I just head back to the Exhibit House - where I find a fantastic exhibit on insects -a wonderful artistic interpretation of creepy crawlies through sculpture, painting, photography, jewelry and fiber arts. You should check the Park's website http://tohonochulpark.org before you visit to get the current art show exhibitions.

I have time to stop at LaGaleria Museum shop on this one visit, where I browse an exceptional collection of southwest-inspired books, jewelry and pottery. On my way out I also stop by the greenhouse and the La Entrada gift shop. I love this shop for its bazaar of desert-inspired goodies, particularly its locally-authored children's books. I pick up an activity packet for a family member who is curious about the desert.

There's no doubt that Tohono Chul Park is a great local Tucson treasure that teaches us about our native plants and wildlife in a natural setting. There's a dose of art and culture, too! See you at the Park - It's a true Tucson gem! Check it out at: http://tohonochulpark.org

 

 

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