Fun Things to Do Near the Park...
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch (1 mile)
Located approx. 1 mile east of the park entrance, this commercial ranch offers an up-close and personal look at the ostriches that are raised here. You have the rare opportunity to hand-feed these critters (feed is for sale.) There is also a gift shop, and a lorikeet enclosure was recently added for the enjoyment of the visitor. The ranch also offers “monster truck” tours that proceed through the ostrich enclosures and into the desert around Picacho Peak. Take I-10 to exit 219 and follow the eastbound frontage road to the ranch. Phone: (520) 466-3658.
Skydive Arizona (18 miles)
Experience the thrill of free-fall – This facility offers full services to experienced skydivers as well as a chance for beginners to participate in a tandem jump from a small airplane. A state-of-the-art simulator is also available that allows trying out this sport without ever leaving the ground. Skydive Arizona is located on 4900 N. Taylor Rd. in Eloy. Phone: (520) 466-3753.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (26 miles)
This area is being administered by the National Park Service and protects the ruins of an ancient dwelling of the Hohokam tribe. The visitor center offers excellent exhibits that interpret the history of the area and the people that inhabited it. Ranger-led tours as well as self-guided visits to the “Great House” ruins are available. The monument is located on 1100 West Ruins Drive in Coolidge. Visitor information: (520) 723-3172.
Saguaro National Park (West section: 33 miles; East section: 50 miles)
Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive stands of the Saguaro, a giant columnar cactus found only in a small part of the Sonoran Desert. The park consists of two sections (East and West) that are located 30 miles apart from each other. Both sections offer a visitor center with exhibits, hiking trails, gift shop, and scenic drives (the 8-mile loop in the East section is paved, the loop roads in the West section are dirt roads.) Trails range from a short and easy stroll to an all-day strenuous hike. There are no developed campsites in either section.
Rincon Mountain District Visitor Center (East Section) is located on Old Spanish Trail on the Northeast side of Tucson. (520) 733-5153. Tucson Mountain District Visitor Center (West Section) is located on Kinney Rd. west of Tucson. (520) 733-5158
Biosphere 2 (52 miles)
Inside Biosphere 2, it only takes about one hour to visit many of the Earth’s different ecosystems, from dry desert to lush green rainforest. Now open to the public, this giant glass enclosure was originally designed for a research experiment that was centered around the possibility and obstacles of self-sustaining space colonization. Between 1991 and 1994, research volunteers were sealed inside this “copy” of planet Earth to test the feasibility of survival. Biosphere 2 is located at mile marker 96.5 on Oracle Rd/Hwy. 77. Phone (520) 838-6200.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (31 miles)
This unusual, mostly outdoors museum combines natural history exhibits with a zoo and a botanical garden. This is the one place to visit to get answers to all of your questions about the Sonoran Desert. The museum is located on 2021 N. Kinney Rd. in Tucson. Phone (520) 883-1380.
Old Tucson Studios (51 miles)
Nicknamed “Arizona’s Hollywood in the Desert”, this Western movie set/family fun park will bring back memories of many famous old movies that were filmed here. There is also the opportunity to watch the filming of current new productions. Located at 201 South Kinney Rd. in Tucson. Phone: (520) 883-0100.
International Wildlife Museum (43 miles)
This natural history museum offers exhibits containing over 400 species of wildlife, including some prehistoric ones. Take a guided tour or explore at your own pace and learn about critters from around the world. Educational programs for grades 2 and 3-5 are available. The museum is located at 4800 W Gates Pass Road in Tucson. Phone: (520) 629-0100.
Ironwood Forest National Monument (12 miles)
The whitish-pink blooming, long-living ironwood tree is the namesake for this remote area that is being administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Explore one of the few remaining dense stands of Ironwood trees in the Sonoran Desert, but come prepared for travel on sandy roads that will lead you deep into the backcountry. Dry washes can turn into raging rivers here on a moment’s notice after a monsoon storm. Four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle recommended. This area is remote, undeveloped, and offers no facilities of any kind. For more information, contact the Tucson Field Office of the BLM at 12661 East Broadway in Tucson. Phone: (520) 258-7200.
Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance
For more ideas and destinations around Southern Arizona, visit the Attractions Alliance online (they do not have an office.) Dedicated to the Southern Arizona visitor, this website offers detailed information as well as web links to many more attractions in the area.