Saturday, January 17, 2015

Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium

       Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium is celebrating another beautiful Arizona spring in the same way that Mother Nature has always marked the return of spring – with the birth of many young animals.       Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium is located on some 95-acres in Litchfield Park, AZ.  It is the fulfillment of Mickey Ollson’s dream that began in the mid-1960 when he started raising exotic birds on his small ranch some 27 miles from downtown Phoenix.  By the mid-1970s Mickey’s interest in conservation of wildlife and wild places of the world’s exotic animals had become a passion and he began to trade some of his exotic birds for exotic mammals. 
    Loveable llamas, deer and wallabies became the first members of his new mammal collection.  When he was offered a small herd of camel and zebra, he realized his ranch was just too small and purchased the first 50-acre plot that is a part of the current zoo.  As he continued to work with exotic animals, his collection grew and grew until he saw his dreams become a reality with the September 1984 opening of the Wildlife World Zoo.
    Today, Mickey Ollson’s Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium lovingly displays over 2,600 animals that represent more than 400 different species.  Nearly 400,000 visitors, including over 75,000 school children, follow the well-designed trails to the many wildlife exhibits.  
    Visitors can also choose to jump aboard the Africa Safari Train or get a “bird’s eye” view of the zoo by taking the treetop Skyride or travel through the park on the Log Flume Ride which brags of having the longest acrylic tunnel in Arizona with a 3-story final water drop.
    In 2008 the first phase of The Wildlife World Zoo’s public aquarium opened.  Aquatic building A, B and C are now complete with Building D scheduled to open in the fall of 2012. 
    Upon completion, this oasis in the Sonoran Desert will feature more than 60 indoor exhibits spread over 33,000 square feet and contain over 135,000 gallons of water.  When combined with the aquarium’s numerous outdoor exhibits, the complex will be home to over 400 species of aquatic birds, reptiles, mammals and fish.  With the recent opening of the new Dillon’s Restaurant, you can dine in front of the aquarium windows as a shark swims by eyeing your delicious KC style barbecue meal.
    Mickey Ollson’s dream has become a very special reality for anyone who loves and enjoys the wonderful variety of the world’s wildlife.   

All photos belong to the Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium...


Saturday, January 10, 2015

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

     It is time to enjoy the wonderful weather found across the Valley of Sun during the winter months.  The Maricopa County Parks system is a great place to spend some time in and with nature.  Our favorite of all the county parks is McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  Let us encourage that you visit - you will love being in the beautiful Sonoran Desert park!

        McDowell Mountain Regional Park just might be the crown jewel of the grand regional park system of Maricopa County.  Located on the eastern slopes of the McDowell Mountains in the lower Verde River basin, this desert park is a wonderful place to spend a spring day for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, picnickers and even campers.
    McDowell Mountain Regional Park encompasses 21,099-acres of virgin Sonoran Desert vegetation with wide desert washes and a terrain of small hills and rugged ridges.  Visitors are treated to spectacular views of the Verde River Valley and the many surrounding mountain ranges including Four Peaks and the majestic Superstition Mountains.  Watching a full moon rise over the Superstition Mountains and the Verde River Valley from the park’s picnic area is one great and memorable Arizona experiences.
    McDowell Mountain Park has over 50 miles of multi-use trails.  The trails range in length from the .5 miles Hilltop Trail to the 15.3-mile Pemberton Trail.  For people new to the park, the 3.1-mile North Trail is an ideal trail to first travel to get to know and experience the park’s environment.
    For mountain bike enthusiasts, McDowell Mountain Park is home to 3 loops of competitive tracks totaling 15 miles in length.  The tracks are a mountain biker’s dream with swooping turns, steep inclines, technical descents and rugged, desert terrain.  Difficulty of the three loops is rated from expert to intermediate to average beginner.
    Picnicking is a popular activity at McDowell Mountain Park especially during the springtime in  Arizona.  A family and group camping area as well as RV accommodations are all a part of the outdoor experience that can be enjoyed in the park.  Camping fees do apply; check the park’s website for details.  For horse lovers, a wonderful horse staging area is available for those who want to explo

re the park while sitting in a saddle.
    Springtime also brings out the local rattlesnakes, so keep a sharp eye out for those desert critters that sometime like to sun on the trails. Restrooms and running water are available at the trailheads but be sure to plan to carry plenty of water with you as you get out and discover for yourself this wonderful Maricopa County Park.

Four Peaks

Great picnic areas

Weavers Needle in the Superstition Mountains 

Hiking Trails

Camping available

Children playground