Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Tohono Chul Park - Tucson
We love Tucson and Tohono Chul Park is one of our favorite destinations. Hope you like our story!
Note - picture 1 - 4 belong to Tohono Chul Park
On occasion you can find that special soul-refreshing oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle of an Arizona city and when found, that place beckons you to return over and over again. Such a place is Tucson’s Tohono Chul Park and spring is the ideal time to explore this urban paradise.
It was in the early 1980s that Jean and Richard Wilson were being pressured to sell their 36 acres of desert land to local strip-mall developers. However, the Wilson’s had other dreams for their undisturbed urban oasis and in 1985 donated their desert paradise so it could become a non-profit park for the citizens of Tucson. They have seen their dream grow into an amazing 49 acres of desert trails, lush plants, flowers, three museum shops, greenhouses and a tearoom with lovely patio dining.
The stated mission of Tohono Chul Park has always been “to enrich people’s lives by providing them the opportunity to find peace and inspiration in a place of beauty, to experience the wonders of the Sonoran Desert and to gain knowledge of the natural and cultural heritage of the region.” This is one place that has truly met their mission statement!
The name “Tohono Chul” means “desert corner” and comes from the language of the Tohono O’odham people, one of seventeen indigenous cultures that live or have lived in this region. The Tohono O’odham, meaning the Desert People, are famous for many uses of Sonoran Desert plants and their ability to live in and among the harsh desert environment.
The beautiful park still retains its hacienda-style charm and the original three homes on the site reflect three different Southwestern architectural styles. The three homes are used today as an exhibit house, a charming tearoom and classrooms for the park’s educational classes.
Visitors can stroll along nature trails with extensive botanical collections, wildlife migration trails, demonstration gardens and an Ethno botanical Garden with crops still grown by local, indigenous farmers. There is a garden especially for children and an ever changing art and cultural displays that reinforces Tohono Chul’s mission.
Unique to this botanical park is its Geology Wall exhibit. The 55-foot long wall is made up of several hundred-rock specimens that represent the two-dozen geological formations found in the 9000-foot high Santa Catalina Mountains that can be seen to the northeast of Tohono Chul Park.
As you walk along this one-of-a-kind rock wall you travel through two billion years of the earth’s geological history. Such a journey through the Catalina Mountains to view the same geological features would require a north to south hike of over 30 miles.
A 40-page Visitor’s Guide can be obtained for $1.00 and acts as a personal docent as one journeys along the park’s beautiful trails. The guide describes petroglyphs, plants, geological formations, reptiles, fish, birds, etc. This excellent nature guide will teach Tohono Park visitors about the natural wonders of our Sonoran Desert living.
Autumn has returned to Arizona so travel to Tucson