Gardens, Art and Sonoran Desert Beauty at Tohono Chul Park

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Tohono Chul Park

Connect with the wonders of nature, art and culture of the Sonoran Desert at Tohono-Chul Park in Tucson, Arizona area

Winding paths through desert landscape, themed botanical gardens, quiet retreats for relaxing, birds and butterflies, garden art and natural and cultural heritage information. I found all that at Tohono Chul Park in a Tucson, Arizona suburb.

Path through Tohono-Chul
Path through Tohono-Chul


Tohono Chul Park
Desert landscape

The park opened in 1985, created by Richard and Jean Wilson, who wanted to keep something natural in the middle of surrounding development.

Tohono Chul Park cacti


Desert rose
Desert rose


Neon flowers
Flowers look neon in the sunlight


Blackbrush acacia in bloom
Blackbrush acacia in bloom


Tohono Chul Park ramada
One of many shaded areas to stop and rest


Desert pupfish
Desert pupfish, now an endangered species, once covered a wide range of Arizona. They can withstand water temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit).


Tohon Chul Park Performance Garden
Performance Garden

A number of themed garden areas exist throughout the park. Examples include Meditation Garden, Desert Palm Oasis and Ethnobotanical Garden. Temporary and permanent pieces of art are on display throughout the garden, sometimes so cleverly blended in with the setting I didn’t immediately recognize as something other than plant life.

Empty Nest sculpture
Empty Nest sculpture by Ira Wiesenfeld is made of welded steel, copper, bronze and stainless steel. It looked very much like twigs or dead branches.


Pottery waterfall
Pottery waterfall


Horse sculpture
Horse sculpture by Kioki Mwitiki, made of reclaimed steel


Cactus water fountain
At first glance, I didn’t realize this was a not a real cactus, until I saw and heard the water bubble through the fountain at top.

There was a serene, peaceful feeling walking through Tohono Chul Park and I listened to the birds and watched the butterflies. The only thing that marred the sense of tranquility was the background traffic noise from nearby main roads.

Monarch Butterfly Waystation
Monarch Butterfly Waystation
Monarch butterflies stop here on their migration. It was mid-March when I visited. The docent told me so far there’d only been a few butterflies show up on their way south. It would be another couple of weeks before the butterflies were in full migration.


Tohono Chul Park bistro patio view
View from bistro patio

There is a very nice bistro on site. It is accessible without going through the park or paying the park entrance fee. We had lunch here and it certainly seemed to be a popular spot.

Tohono Chul Park
Desert landscape with view of Catalina Mountains

Tohono Chul Park is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. It is closed on New Year’s Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, with reduced hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Check their website for any special closures. Many of the trails are wheelchair accessible.

art in Tohono Chul Park


Tohono Chul Park in Tucson, Arizona: gardens, art, and desert beauty #Tucson #Arizona

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  1. That was a great pictorial visit to Tohono Chul Park! I think my favorite was the bird’s nest sculpture! But the horse sculpture was pretty cool too:)

  2. Jacquie, the sculptures were a pleasant surprise in the garden.So well-placed, they seemed a natural part of the landscape.

    1. Doreen, I love spring flowers in Arizona. We’re not home for a couple of weeks yet, so hopefully all snow is gone by then.

  3. Donna, you wowed me right from the start with that gorgeous picture and kept me going right to the end. What a beautiful park and how blessed you are to have experienced that. I would love to visit the Monarch Butterfly Waystation, wouldn’t that be an impressive sight. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lenie, it was a lovely park. I would have liked to have been there when the monarchs were passing through.

  4. I haven’t visited it yet although we live under five hours by car from the park. The sculptures are a great addition to the foliage. I think this should be the year we visit Tucson again and make a point to see this lovely park.

    1. Beth, the sculptures in this garden were great. It gave the park more of an art feel than some other gardens.

  5. Just beautiful, Donna! I love that cactus fountain – it’s ironic and gorgeous, all at the same time. Thanks for bringing us this experience.

    1. William, the Sonoran desert has changed my concept of desert plant life. However, you also need to keep in mind that this visit was in spring time when the desert comes alive with colour.

  6. What a beautiful area Donna! When I see such unusual sites like this is about the only time I truly miss living on the mainland because it much be such a treat to be able to just jump in the car and visit so many different locations. Wonderful photos!

  7. Pictures look beautiful. Desert landscape can be so fascinating. I only spent a couple days in Tucson once while I was at a business conference. Was able to sneak out for a short hike and that was enough to make me want to go back and see more.

    1. Ken, there are a .lot of interesting things to see in and around Tucson. I too would like to get back there some time to see more.

  8. I was about to feel sorry for the horse being all enclosed like that until I read he is a horse of steel; can handle anything. Love the desert so enjoyed the photos very much.

  9. Such a beautiful park and I love the gardens. And I had to laugh at the cactus that was spouting water. No, you usually do not see those in nature. I wish I was there right now, but I guess these beautiful pictures will have to do!

    1. Erica, I almost missed that the cactus was not a real plant as it was set back in a garden bed until I noticed the water.

  10. WOW! You have made my day with great visit to Tohono Chul Park.
    I was amazed to know that the cactus was not real.
    Yesterday one of my friend has sent me few pictures of wild flowers in my area and asked me to write about it, as I do not know their names, but after reading this, I am thinking, I can share the pictures to feast some eyes.
    Thank you for a great share and such efforts by few like Richard and Jean Wilson are really needed to keep world beautiful.

  11. I’m really enjoying your posts on Tucson Donna. It’s bringing back such wonderful memories of the time I spent there. Looking at these images I remember the serenity of the desert. It was such a dichotomy the hustle and bustle of the student life and then gazing out the window and seeing how peace that surrounded my life,

    1. Pamela, I’m glad my Tucson posts are bringing back wonderful memories. You are right about the serenity of the desert in that area.

  12. How stunning. I planted some flowers similar to the neon pink looking ones you’ve shared here, but they didn’t grow back this spring like I thought they would. Tohono Chul Park is definitely somewhere I would like to visit someday when I can make it back that way.

    1. Jeri, too bad your neon pink flowers didn’t grow back. I’m sure they were stunning in your yard the year they did grow.

    1. Sabrina, I hope you enjoy you visit. I’d recommend you plan the timing of your visit to include brunch or lunch at the bistro.