Arizona-Sonora Living Desert Museum Hike | Tucson Arizona Hike

Arizona-Sonora Living Desert Museum Overview: Founded in 1952, the Arizona-Sonora Living Desert Museum is a 98 acre zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and education center. This Tucson nonprofit museum features over 200 different types of animal species and over 1,200 different types of plants in indoor and outdoor exhibits.

In addition to the park’s plant and wildlife, there are various paved and dirt trails that traverse throughout the museum. The most popular trail is the Desert Loop Trail that extends throughout the perimeter of the museum’s exhibits and will take hikers past various animal exhibits and desert ecosystems.

Yes, it sounds cool and it is! As a result of the museum’s incredible collection of desert creates, over 400,000 tourists visit annually. If you have extra time to spare after your hiking adventure, the Go Hike It teams also recommends watching the museum’s Raptor eagle show!

Estimated Time: 2-3 hours (including time to look at the exhibits) 

Total Distance: 2-3 miles (round-trip)

Home to 230+ animal species & 1,200+ varieties of plants

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Trails cover over 20 acres of desert landscape

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Total Distance (miles)

Total Estimated Time (hours)

Arizona-Sonora Living Dessert Photo Gallery

Arizona-Sonora Living Desert Hike Gallery (click on image to rotate through image/s) 

Over 400,000 visitors a year

Musuem founded in 1952

When to Go

Late Fall/Early Spring: Try & avoid the summer! It can be blistering hot in Tucson, Arizona and several of the museum’s captivating exhibits are outside. Therefore, the late fall or early spring months may be more ideal to visit when the weather may be a little cooler. However, if you visit during the cold winter months, some of the outdoor animals may be hibernating or out of site.

Dog Friendly

No, dogs are not permitted at the Arizona-Sonora Living Desert Museum. Only service animals.




Trail Map & Directions

Arizona-Sonora Living Dessert Museum (address for GPS to parking lot):

  • 2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743

DIrections from (Tucson): see map below with live traffic updates

Intensity Levels

Barry-the-Bear: Easy Breezy! The paved trails made the experience easy and we were distracted by the incredible assortment of native desert plants, including the diverse assortments of cactus. Additionally, were were thrilled to see our first Javelina! We thought it was a special sighting, until we realized Javelina freely roam throughout the Tucson area.

  • Intensity Level 55%

Larry-the-Lion: This may be one of the few hikes in Tucson, where you don’t have to worry about Jumping Cholla! The museum’s trails are very well maintained, the animals are treated very well and yes, there are not cholla waiting to bounce on our legs!

  • Intensity Level 20%

Chris-the-Cheetah: I was very happy to see how well the animals are treated. As a fellow cheetah, it’s important to have plenty room to run around and explore your terrain. The museum’s animals, especially the creatures in the outdoor pins are given plenty of space to explore the outdoors and roam on the desert land.

The trails are easy, but seeing the diverse plants and animals made the experience well worth it!

  • Intensity Level 10%

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Why We Liked It

Raptors! Yes, raptors!

No, we are not talking about the raptors that chase after your Jeep and eat T-Rexs. We are talking about the cunning eagle raptors that strategically fly over the desert landscape. These birds of prey can fly up to 45 miles per hour! We were impressed by the 30 minute raptor show as the raptors completed various flying tricks.

In addition the special birds of prey show, the Arizona-Sonora Living Desert Museum provided a beautiful environment to hike and learn about the local desert landscape. We enjoyed seeing the diverse collection of cactus and learning about how animals survive in the desert climate. Make sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water!




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