• Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix): There's no better place in the state to learn about the plants of Arizona's Sonoran Desert and the many other deserts of the world. Displays at this Phoenix botanical garden explain plant adaptations and how indigenous tribes once used many of this region's wild plants.
  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum (east of Phoenix): Just outside the town of Superior, this was the nation's first botanical garden established in a desert environment. It's set in a small canyon framed by cliffs and has desert plantings from all over the world -- a fascinating educational stroll in the desert.
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson): The name is misleading -- this is actually more a zoo and botanical garden than a museum. Naturalistic settings house dozens of species of desert animals, including a number of critters you probably wouldn't want to meet in the wild (rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, black widows, and Gila monsters).
  • Saguaro National Park (Tucson): With units both east and west of Tucson, this national park preserves "forests" of saguaro cacti and is the very essence of the desert that so many imagine it to be. You can hike it, bike it, or drive it.
  • Tohono Chul Park (Tucson): Although this park is not that large, it packs a lot of desert scenery into its modest space. Impressive plantings of cacti are the star attractions, but there are also good wildflower displays in the spring.
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (west of Tucson): The organ pipe cactus is a smaller, multitrunked relative of the giant saguaro and lives only along the Mexican border about 100 miles west of Tucson. This remote national monument has hiking trails and a couple of scenic drives.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.