Monday, December 26, 2016

Five Arizona Winter Road Trips

    Arizona’s winters are relatively mild when compared to the harsh winters found in many parts of our United States.  And to avoid any possibility of running into snowy roads on of your escape weekends of winter, simply focus on the many amazing natural and made-made destinations found in southern Arizona.  So get out this winter and enjoy these great southern Arizona weekend road trips…

    1.    Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson - -  This world-renowned botanical garden, zoo and natural history museum is located on the western edge of Tucson.  For anyone who loves living in the Sonoran Desert with all its amazing plants and animals, this museum is a must see.  And by visiting many of the outdoor exhibits during the winter months, Arizona’s heat is never a problem.  Distance - 140 miles for I-17/Carefree Highway.

2.  Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson - - This  museum is the largest privately funded aviation and aerospace museum in the world.  More than 300 of the most significant aircraft in the history of flight are on display here.  In addition, 125,000 artifacts from moon rocks to historic flight gear are displayed in five hangers over an 80 acre site.  A must-see for anyone who loves those flying machines!  Distance - 150 miles for I-17/Carefree Highway.

3.  Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson - - The Grand Canyon is certainly grand but Kartchner Caverns just might be Arizona’s most spectacular natural wonder.  Winter is the perfect time to visit this system of living caves since all the major caverns are open to visitors which is not true during the summer months when the Big Room cavern closes while it serves as a bat nursery for a 1,000 female cave mouse-eared bats.  If you have never seen this Arizona wonder - go!  Distance - 193 miles for I-17/Carefree Highway.

4.  Bisbee - - once known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps” this old Arizona mining camp is now a perfect weekend escape for anyone looking for a small town with fine dining along with a creative art and music scene.  Located in the scenic Mule Mountains, a stay in Bisbee is sure to refresh your spirit.  Get lost in the well-preserved historic architecture, ride the rail deep into the Queen Mine or challenge the paranormal on one the many Ghost Tours.  The Copper Queen Hotel is legendary, historic and haunted; the Shady Dell allows you to spend a night in the era of the retro 50s.  Distance - 235 miles for I-17/Carefree Highway.

5.  Chiricahua National Monument, Willcox - - located 36 miles southeast of Wilcox, this natural Arizona wonders is the preserved remains of an ancient volcanic eruption.  Known as a “Wonderland of Rocks” this national monument has over 17-miles of day-use hiking trails and a beautiful 8-mile paved scenic drive. And, if you happen to visit right after a fast-moving winter storm, you just might get to see the many tall rock spires covered with an incredibly beautiful dusting of freshly fallen snow.  Distance - 257 miles for I-17/Carefree Highway.

6.  Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival - - Willcox is a mecca for dozens of species of wintering birds.  And, if you are a lover of birds, this annual celebration of all things avian is the ideal weekend road trip for you.  The stars of this weekend are the 1000s of large Sandhill Cranes which annually return to the Sulphur Springs Valley.    This years Wings Over Willcox celebration occurs January 11 - 15, 2017.  Distance - 223 miles for I-17/Carefree Highway.

Here are other great southern Arizona destinations that make for great winter weekend road trips - Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson Zoo, Colassal Cave, Kitt Peak National Observatory, Titan Missile Museum, Tubac State Park, Tumacacori National Historic Park, Patagonia/Sonoita/Elgin Wine Country, Tombstone, Fort Bowie National Historic Park, Amerind Museum  and The Thing!

Pictures 1- 3 belong to the Pima Air Museum

4 - 7 belong to the Chiricahua National Monument

rest belong to us!

Pima Air Museum

Chiricahua National Monument

Downtown Bisbee

Copper Queen, Bisbee, AZ

Sandhill Cranes

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Legos and the Phoenix Zoo

      There is never a bad time to go to the Phoenix Zoo!   And right now the Phoenix Zoo is featuring a special exhibit entitled Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks which features 27 animal and flora sculptures built with nearly a million LEGO bricks.
    These large LEGO® sculptures are the creation of New York-based artist Sean Kenney whose artistic works have been featured in venues around the world.  Of his exhibit, Kenney states, “I am excited to bring Nature Connects to the Phoenix Zoo.  Everyone can get something out of the exhibit; whether it’s an educational message about conservation and ecosystems, an appreciation for the beauty of nature, or the fun of seeing giant larger-than-life sculptures built with millions of LEGO® bricks.”
    Several of the sculptures highlight animals which are endangered, threatened or vulnerable to help zoo guests understand the vital connection between animal conservation and the community.  Visitors will enjoy seeing a hatchling sea turtle, a vanishing rhinoceros, a jeweled chameleon, a crouching snow leopard and more all made from LEGO®.  Perhaps the most stunning sculpture is of a life-size polar bear mother and cubs made with more than 133,000 pieces and weighting over 625 pounds.
    The Nature Connects exhibit is now visible to Zoo guests during daytime visits and with general Zoo admission.  The exhibit will be at the Phoenix Zoo until January 2, 2017.
    So make your plans now to get out and visit again the Phoenix Zoo.  It is the only zoo in the Valley accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is a non-profit zoological park that is home to over 1,400 wonderful animals.  Photos belong to the Phoenix Zoo.