Award-winning Tohono Chul Park is where nature, art and culture connect. Named one of the World’s Great Botanical Gardens by Travel + Leisure and listed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the top 22 Secret Gardens in the U.S. and Canada, there is something for everyone. This oasis in the desert offers a respite from the hectic pace of daily life, provides an informative look at the region’s fascinating cultural traditions and its even more interesting flora and fauna, and is the perfect setting for an evening concert, special event or family wedding. Come and discover its nature!
Tohono Chul grounds and Tohono Chul Garden Bistro: 8am-5pm, daily
(only service dogs are allowed in the Park)
Exhibit House, Museum Shops and Greenhouse: 9:00am-5:00pm, daily
Administration: 8:00-5:00pm, Monday-Friday
Closed for Special Event Sunday March 24th at 12:00pm
Tohono Chul closed: New Year’s Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
Member: Free | Student (with ID): $4.00
Adult: $8.00 | Children (5-12): $2.00
Senior (62+): $6.00 | Children (under 5): Free
Active Military: $5.00 | Groups (10 or more): 10% discount
Special discounts: members of AAA – 10%; members of AAM or APGA – free
Tohono Chul Garden Bistro, La Fuente Museum Shop and La Entrada Greenhouse and Garden Shop are not subject to the admission charge
Tohono Chul closed: New Year’s Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
The Park is located in northwest Tucson near the corner of Ina and Oracle Roads. The main entrance is on Paseo del Norte, the first stoplight on Ina, west of Oracle. The Park is less than five miles east of I-10, using the Ina Road exit (#248). I-10 is currently under construction. check here or call (520) 327-6444 for the latest information on exit closures and traffic delays.
From I-10: Take the Ina Road exit (#248) and drive east approximately five miles. After the La Canada stoplight, move into the left lane; the next stoplight is Paseo del Norte. Turn left and proceed to the first driveway on your right, the main entrance to the Park and the Garden Bistro.
From east Tucson: Head north to Sunrise Drive; turn left on Sunrise and continue west. Sunrise becomes Skyline Drive and then Ina Road. One stoplight west of Oracle Road intersection, turn right on Paseo del Norte and proceed to the first driveway on your right, the main entrance to the Park and the Garden Bistro.
From central Tucson: Head north on Oracle Road; turn left (west) on Ina Road. One stoplight west of Oracle Road, turn right on Paseo del Norte and proceed to the first driveway on your right, the main entrance to the Park and the Garden Bistro.
From Oro Valley: Take Oracle Road south to Ina Road; turn right and drive to the next stoplight at Paseo del Norte and make another right. Proceed to the first driveway on your right, the main entrance to the Park and the Garden Bistro.
On-site parking is available just inside the entrance at Paseo del Norte. Parking for motor homes and buses is available along the exit drive. If attending an event at the Education Center, parking is open in the adjacent lot off Northern Avenue (across from Ina Road).
Park grounds, buildings and most trails are handicapped accessible. Handicapped parking is available in both public parking lots. Wheelchairs are available at Admissions on a first-come basis.
Click here (PDF format) to access of Park map
Depending on your artist talents, you may want to use the Park as an inspiration for your photography, drawing, painting or other media. If you are going to be selling these images/artworks commercially, please review our polices.
• Walk in the Park
Through April: Monday through Saturdays at 9:00am and 1:00pm
May 1 – September 30: 9:00am only
July – August: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30
Experience Tohono Chul Park while learning some of the basics of the ecology of the Sonoran Desert.
• Birds of Tohono Chul Park
September – June: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30am
July – August: Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:30am
Learn to identify residents and those just passing through, plus information on habits and habitat.
Download Tohono Chul Park’s Bird Checklist (PDF format)
• Art in the Park
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00am & Starting March 1, Sunday at 2:00pm
Get an in-depth and behind-the-scenes look at our changing art and cultural exhibits.
• Stories in the Garden for Children
September – June: Tuesdays at 10:00am
July – August: Tuesdays at 9:00am
Traditional and original stories about the desert and its creatures streamside in the Garden for Children.
• Wildflowers: What’s Bloom’n?
March and April | Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00am
Bring your camera to capture the colors of spring and develop more than a nodding acquaintance with our annual wildflowers.
• Hawk Happening
2nd & 4th Wednesdays | 11am – 1pm | Children’s Ramada
March 14 – April 25
Traveling avian ambassador Sueño and her human, Kathie Schroeder, share secrets in the lives of the Southwest’s amazing Harris’ hawks.
• Reptile Ramble
Fridays | 10 – 11am | Overlook
April 5 – October 25
Get up close and personal with the Sonoran Desert’s scaled and slithery creatures from snakes and lizards to tortoises and turtles.
• Connecting Plants and People
1st Saturday of the month at 10:00am
Discover the edible and useful plants of the Sonoran Desert.
• New Member Tour
2nd Saturday of the month at 9:00am
An introduction to all that the Park offers
• The Great Xeriscape
3rd Saturday of the month at 10:00am
Unearth the how-to’s for using native and arid-adapted plants in water-saving landscapes.
These touch carts, staffed by Park Docents, feature hands-on Sonoran Desert learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. Stocked with everything from binoculars and hand lenses to mounted specimens and scientific models, and supplemented with an amazing array of feathers, bones, skins, and plant parts, these investigation stations allow for a full range of sensory experiences.
Winged Things – Mondays
from birds to butterflies, a look at the winged things of the skies
Wild Woolies – Tuesdays
the warm, hairy beasties of our deserts
Rocks and Ruins – Wednesdays
explore Tucson Basin geology and archaeology
Who Eats Whom – Thursdays
follow the predator/prey trail and explore a tangled food web
Creepy Crawlies – Fridays
sometimes scary, but always cool! – spiders, scorpions, snakes and lizards
Prickly Plants – Saturdays
spiny and downright hostile, plants are well adapted to our desert environment
Look. Listen. Learn.
Next time you visit the Park, please turn your cell phone ON and hear what you’re missing! Tohono Chul Park now offers informative tours to anyone with a cell phone. Pick up a prompt card at Admissions and dial 520-226-3002 to get started. Call as often as you like, but charges from your provider may apply.
Or, click on any of the prompts below and listen in as you plan your visit to the Park.
1 – Director’s Intro
4/5 – History of the Park
6 – Exhibit Hall
7 – Gallery
8 – Wells Fargo Foyer Gallery
9 – Ethnobotanical Garden
10 – SIN AGUA Garden
11 – Geology Wall Intro
12 – Geologic History of the Catalinas
13 – Rock Talk
14 – Riparian Habitat
15 – Desert Living Courtyard
16 – Xeriscape Garden
17 – Moorish Garden
18 – Container Garden
19 – Barrio Garden
20 – Wildlife Garden
21 – Dry Shade Garden
22 – Winter Summer Garden
23 – Meditation Garden
24 – Outdoor Living Garden
25 – Utility Garden
26 – Saguaro Discovery Trail
27 – Saguaro Origin Story
28 – Prickly Plants – Cacti
29 – Prickly Plants – Agaves & Yuccas
31 Prickly Plants – Bean trees
32 Prickly Plants – Wildflowers
33 – Critters in the Park
34 – Desert Climate
35 – Behind the Greenhouse Door
A cross between a scavenger-hunt and a quest for buried treasure, letterboxing is an activity that can involve the entire family in a search for hidden notebooks in scenic, remote, and interesting places. According to legend, the hobby started in England in 1854 when a gentleman left his calling card in an empty jar in the bank of Cranmere Pool in North Dartmoor. Over time, visitors to the pool left self-addressed cards, which subsequent visitors mailed back to their owners. Eventually a logbook and then a rubber stamp were added. By 1998, the phenomena had crossed the Atlantic to the Colonies and now Tohono Chul Park is joining the other 16 boxes already in the Tucson area.
Here’s how it works. Hidden somewhere on the Park grounds is a waterproof box containing a logbook, a pen, and a rubber stamp designed for us by Dave Fitzsimmons. Docent Barb Pepper has written a poem that is the clue that will guide you on your way. You can also check us out on the national website (www.letterboxing.org). This site has great ideas on how to make your own, personalized rubber stamps, and a fun kids’ page.
If you decide to become a hunter of letterboxes, you will need the clue(s), and at least a pencil, a personal rubber stamp, an inkpad, and a personal logbook. Once you successfully decipher the clue and find the box, stamp the logbook in the box with your personal stamp, and stamp your personal logbook with the box’s stamp. Make a note of the date and time of your visit in both books. The box’s logbook keeps a record of all its visitors, and the hunters keep a record of all the boxes they have found, in their personal logbooks. Happy hunting!
Tohono Chul Park Letterbox Clue – download the clue and start searching!
Tohono Chul Park enters the GPS age with the addition of our first geocache. What is Geocaching? It’s an adventure game for GPS users (GPS stands for global positioning system which allows a user to locate any spot on the earth given latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates). The word comes from geo for geography and caching for the process of hiding a cache. Taking part in a cache hunt takes advantage of the features and capabilities of a GPS unit, while involving participants in a search for hidden “treasure.” There are almost 270,000 caches hidden in 221 countries; locations are posted on the internet for GPS users.
You may think that once you have the coordinates, you already know where the geocache is hidden, but it’s not as easy as it seems. It’s one thing to see where a cache is hidden; it’s a different story to actually get there, and once there, to find the cache which is usually well concealed from the casual observer.
There are many different kinds of caches, some with exchange items, others with log books large enough to write notes, and some, like the one at Tohono Chul Park, is so small there is only room in the log for a name and date (entries from visitors are shared on the Geocaching website).
For those in the know, our waypoint is GCVWA4. If you are new to the sport, visit the website at www.geocaching.com, and find out how to get started! Happy Geocaching!
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PARK
The story of Tohono Chul Park begins in 1966 when its benefactors, Richard and Jean Wilson, started piecing together patches of the desert that would form its core – ultimately owning 37 acres. In 1968 they purchased the section containing the hacienda-style “West House” known today as the Tohono Chul Garden Bistro. The Wilsons lived in this house for eight years.
It was during the 1970s that the couple was approached several times by developers seeking to purchase the land for commercial development. They always refused. Jean Wilson told them, “I don’t want to sell the land. I don’t want it cemented over. I want to preserve it.” In fact, when Pima County condemned a strip along the southern boundary of the property in order to widen Ina Road, Dick Wilson demanded that they move every saguaro and replant it on their adjacent property.
After opening the Haunted Bookshop in 1979 on Northern Avenue, the eastern boundary of the site, the Wilsons began planning their next project – a park. “At first, we just went out and put down some lime to make a path and marked the names of some of the plants and bushes, but then it started to snowball.” The path gradually grew into a loop trail meandering a half-mile into the surrounding desert. In 1980, they received a citation from the Tucson Audubon Society for saving the desert green space and opening it to the public.
Tohono Chul Park was formally dedicated on April 19, 1985. “We wanted to keep something natural in the middle of all the (surrounding) development so that people could come easily for a few hours and get out of the traffic and learn something at the same time. It’s probably contrary to what most people would do, but we feel it’s really important for people to have something like this.” An additional 11-acre parcel abutting the property on the north was added in 1995 and the closing of the Haunted Bookshop in 1997 added the final acre, making a total of 49.
At the Park’s dedication ceremony, Richard and Jean Wilson expressed their vision for Tohono Chul:
We dedicate this park to those who come here, who, we hope, will not only admire and find comfort in the natural beauty of the area, but will achieve greater appreciation of the ways of conserving all our precious desert region and obtain a greater understanding of the people native to these areas.
For a more detailed history and a trail-by-trail description of Tohono Chul Park, Download “the Official Visitors Guide” (PDF file)
Art & Photography policies
The Park has different policies in place for commercial artists and photographers as well as for people in the Park who are photographed during their visit. Please have a look at the PDFs below for details.
Commerical Art Policy
Park Photography Policy