Things to Do in Tucson, Arizona: Tohono Chul Park
Tohono Chul Park is a botanical garden and nature reserve in Casas Adobes in Tucson, Arizona. Translated as ‘desert corner’ from the indigenous southern Arizonan language of Tohono O’odham, Tohono Chul Park was established to enrich visitors lives by connecting them with the wonders of the art, culture, and nature of the Sonoran Desert region. Photo: James Eddy/Fotolia
Set on a 49-acre property with breathtaking vistas of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Tohono Chul Park, AZ, features a natural desert habitat with existing migratory tracks that attract an array of fauna and flora endemic to the Sonoran Desert region. The Tohono Chul Park is a permanent home to 38 local species and 57 migrant species of birds, and a variety of reptiles and mammals.
Tohono Chul Park features several thematic botanical collections that contain a plethora of species native to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts, including more than 300 types of cacti and succulents, 150 variations of shrubs and trees; and more than 50 species of wildflowers. Tohono Chul Park is also home to the largest private collection of native Night-blooming Cereus and hosts a ‘Bloom Night’ every summer where the number of cereus flowers that will open are predicted.
Tohono Chul Park features a variety of distinct botanical gardens and exhibits that showcase the fauna and flora native to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts.
The Hummingbird Garden features an array of hummingbird-friendly plants such as desert honeysuckle, desert willow, and salvia, which attract a variety of hummingbird species, both local and migratory. The Penstemon Garden is also a favorite of this little bird and is home to 275 species of native and foreign penstemons, sometimes called beardtongue.
The Desert Palm Oasis is the newest garden in the Park and features a unique biome with several species of native plants that are usually found in the narrow canyons along the coast of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. The Desert Palm Oasis also has an open walking garden with Nacapule jasmine, sea grape and rock fig and a spring-fed stream with a population of endangered native fish. Photo: Coka/Fotolia
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The Alice Y. Holsclaw Performance Garden is tucked under a grove of mature acacia trees and offers an ideal venue for outdoor concerts, lectures and other special events, such as weddings. Designed primarily for children, the Bank of America Children’s Garden provides a variety of nature-based educational experiences for children to enjoy through discovery and exploration. Features of the garden include a painted and tiled stream, xylophone wind chimes and a rattlesnake wall.
The Demonstration Garden presents a variety of innovative ideas for creating a desert oasis in home gardens using native plants and natural materials. Features of this beautiful and functional garden include a re-circulating stream with endangered species of native fish, a hidden grotto, a geology wall and a Desert Tortoise habitat that is home to two desert tortoises and several desert spiny and whiptails lizards.
Tohono Chul’s Riparian Habitat is a fascinating re-creation of one of the once abundant perennial streams that flowed through the Sycamore Canyon in southern Arizona and features a diverse array of fauna and flora that reside on the banks of rivers and streams. Photo: fmcginn/Fotolia
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The Sin Agua Garden (‘garden without water’) is a desert landscape that thrives on harvested rainwater. Demonstrations in the garden include water harvesting, controlling and using of run-off water, and testing the adaptability of native plants in the extremely challenging conditions of alternating drought and flooding. The Sin Agua Garden features a variety of native shrubs, ephemerals, and small trees.
Located in the heart of the Park with beautiful views, the Sonoran Seasons Garden showcases the seasonal variations of the Arizona Upland, namely spring, dry summer, monsoon summer, fall, and winter in five sub-gardens. These sub-gardens highlight how the native plants of the region seasonally adapt to the changing seasons and include plantings of desert willow, ironwood, and ocotillo.
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The Ethnobotanical Garden features a variety of indigenous plants that were cultivated the native peoples of the Southwest for food, medicine and other necessities, such as basket making and cultural ceremonies. The summer garden also features new crops that were introduced by Spanish and other Europeans settlers who flood-farmed the area.
The Cargill and Bradley Families Desert Living Courtyard is divided into 10 distinct garden vignettes that promote Xeriscape and offers great ideas for homeowners using native and arid-adapted plants in a variety of backyard landscapes. Each garden features a different landscape theme and design, along with creative water conservation ideas. The garden scenes include a Barrio Garden Layout, a Moorish Garden Layout, a Container Garden Layout, a Xeriscape Garden Layout, and a Wildlife Garden Layout. Other scenarios featured are a Dry Shade Garden Layout, Desert Pupfish, a Winter/Summer Garden Layout, a Meditation Garden Layout, an Outdoor Living Garden Layout, and a Utility Garden Layout. Photo: Gobchayatorn/Fotolia
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Tohono Chul’s Geology Wall exhibit is a 55-foot long, semi-circular wall that contains hundreds of rock specimens that represent over two dozen geologic formations that make up the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains in the background. Built by geologists Doug Shakel and Toby Wright, the wall takes visitors on a journey through two billion years of the Earth’s history as they walk along the wall, which showcases rock specimens and fossils dating back to the dawn of time.
Tohono Chul Park also features a variety of evolving indoor arts and cultural exhibitions designed for artists and visitors of all ages. Presentations vary from traditional and contemporary art to environmental concerns affecting the region and can last from a few weeks to several months. The Park’s three exhibit spaces also showcase a permanent collection of Native American artwork, including paintings, sculptures, fiber arts, and basketry. Photo: Coka/Fotolia
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Tohono Chul Park is located at 7366 N Paseo Del Norte in Tucson and is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm year-round. Tohono Chul Park offers daily docent-guided tours of the grounds, scheduled lectures, classes and workshops and travel opportunities to visitors at the Desert Discovery Education Center. The Park also has a Garden Bistro, gift shop, and Greenhouse.
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Address: 7366 N Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704, Phone: 520-742-6455 Photo: Steven/Fotolia
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Things to Do in Tucson, Arizona: Tohono Chul Park
- History, Photo: Courtesy of Coka - Fotolia.com
- More Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of fmcginn - Fotolia.com
- More Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Gobchayatorn - Fotolia.com
- Exhibits, Photo: Courtesy of Coka - Fotolia.com
- Visitor Information, Photo: Courtesy of Steven - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of James Eddy - Fotolia.com
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