Enjoy Nature in the Center of Tucson at the Tohono Chul Park

One of the world’s best botanical gardens is in the heart of Tucson, Arizona, with Saguaro Discovery Trail, Children’s Garden, wildlife & a great Tea Room.

The Tohono Chul Park is in one of the busiest parts of Tucson, near the Ina/Oracle junction, yet it’s a delightful green retreat filled with plants and wildlife. It has been voted one of the World’s Ten Best Botanical Gardens by Travel+Leisure magazine, and one of the Top 22 Secret Gardens in the United States and Canada by National Geographic Traveler magazine.

Tohono Chul Trails

Tohono Chul’s 49 acres are laced with trails, which interconnect and are dotted with shady ramadas, plazas, gardens, a riparian habitat, artworks, and an astonishing array of plants, birds, and other wildlife. They range from giant saguaros to tiny hummingbirds – right down to baby hummingbirds in the spring breeding season.

The trails include the Saguaro Discovery Trail, with information panels that tell you everything you need to know about this astonishing cactus, its life cycle, and its importance to the local Native Americans, the Tohono O’odham people.

The Desert View Trail is one favored by birdwatchers, while the South Loop Trail takes you through washes and up a small hill, showing the variety of indigenous vegetation which thrives in slightly different environments.

Tohono Chul Wildlife

The wildlife you might see changes at different times of year, and if you want to be sure you don’t see a rattlesnake, better visit in winter. When the weather warms up, though, some snakes can be found, although you’re far more likely to see some of the many lizards that make the park their home, and perhaps even a gila monster.

Less easily seen are the larger mammals that also live in and around the park, such as coyotes, bobcats, javelinas, and grey foxes. There are 38 species of birds living permanently in the park, while another 57 species have been recorded during the migration seasons.

Tohono Chul Botanical Collection

Most of the plants you see at Tohono Chul are native to the American Southwest, or have been introduced and have adapted happily to living here. At the last count the park was home to 300 different species of cacti and succulents, 150 types of shrubs and trees, and 50 different species of wildflowers. Tohono Chul Park also has the largest public collection of native Night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii) in the USA, with over 350 individual plants.

Tohono Chul Bloom Night

On one special summer evening each year, Tohono Chul is open for Bloom Night, when visitors can see the impressive display of the Night-blooming Cereus coming out. There are also other events on the night, including live performances. Admission is $5 (free for park members).

The date varies each year according to current conditions and can be any time from late May to late July. The most common time is mid-to late-June. To find the date of Bloom Night this year, check the Bloom Night page of the Tohono Chul Park website.

Dining at Tohono Chul Park

Tohono Chul has a very popular restaurant, the Tea Room, which has two outdoor patios. The best tables are out in the garden courtyard, where you can admire the greenery and birdlife (including hummingbirds from the adjacent hummingbird garden) while dining on some superbly tasty food.

The kitchen is under the management of chef Albert Hall and his wife Lila Yamashiro, who also run Tucson’s award-winning Acacia restaurant. In both places, they focus on locally sourced food as much as possible, with an emphasis on produce that is pesticide and herbicide-free, and on organic produce.

You can enjoy treats like their prickly pear margaritas, prickly pear lemonade, apricot tea, red posole, chicken enchiladas, and mouthwatering green chili pork carnitas, as well as fresh salads. The Tea Room is open daily 8 am-5 pm.

2-for-1 Admission at Tohono Chul Park

Dining at the Tea Room isn’t only recommended because of the exceptional food. Tohono Chul Park recently started a 2-for-1 admission offer. Dine at the Tea Room and you get 2-for-1 admission to the gardens.

More Information on the Tohono Chul Park

The Tohono Chul Park is open daily, 8 am-5 pm. For more information visit the Tohono Chul Park website.

  • Tohono Chul Park
  • 7366 N. Paseo del Norte
  • Tucson, AZ 85704
  • Tel: 520-742-6455

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