The Pepper Group
5845 N Calle Tiburon Tucson
Tucson, AZ 85704
Tucson Tohono Chul Park
Welcome to Tucson's Tohono Chul Park where nature, art and culture connect! We're in the Sonoran Desert, a highly diverse region with a variety of plants and animals having remarkable survival skills adapted to an often inhospitable climate. In addition, here in our border region a confluence of cultures has interconnected with the natural environment, thus contributing to our distinctive regional character.
The mission of Tohono Chul Park
is to enrich people's lives
by providing them the opportunity to
find peace and inspiration in a place of beauty,
of the Sonoran Desert,
and to gain knowledge
of the natural and cultural heritage
of this region.
Tohono Chul Park is located in a sprawling urban environment in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Residential housing, strip shopping centers, and non-native plants are quickly replacing the pristine desert. This loss of habitat makes the vulnerability of the desert even more obvious and therefore, the Tohono Chul Park's mission becomes even more imperative. Our goal and purpose is to inspire everyone -- visitors, community members, and most importantly, children -- with the desire to learn to live with our desert home. Tohono Chul Park serves as a model for others to learn to be participant stewards of this fragile environment.
The site itself offers a dramatic setting for our regional focus. Views of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains form a backdrop for the Tohono Chul Park's natural desert habitat. Its location within existing migratory tracks provides a temporary home for many species of wild, native fauna. Thirty-eight species of birds make their permanent home at the Tohono Chul Park while another 57 migrant species visit the Tohono Chul Park seasonally. A variety of reptiles and mammals, from gila monsters to grey fox, may be spotted on the Tohono Chul Park grounds.
Within these surroundings, the Tohono Chul Park has developed thematic displays using its collections to teach visitors about indigenous plants and animals, conservation, desert ecology, and native cultures. We are the only organization in our region whose primary focus is on these natural and cultural connections, giving our visitors a unique perspective on the Sonoran Desert.
Our botanical collections consist primarily of those plants native to our region or adapted to the American Southwest. They include more than 150 species of shrubs and trees; 300 species of cacti and succulents; and 50 species of wildflowers. In addition, the Tohono Chul Park has the largest public collection of native Night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii) in the United States! Moreover, visitors often encounter the serendipitous -- a bird feeding its young; a lizard capturing its prey; a rabbit scampering through the desert scrub -- an opportunity to connect with the wonders of nature.
Exploring the grounds you will encounter diverse exhibits such as the Ethnobotanical Garden which displays some of the indigenous plants cultivated by Southwestern native peoples for food, medicine, and other necessities of life; a re-circulating desert stream, which replicates the natural vegetation of Arizona's riparian communities; the Geology Wall, which illustrates the geologic history of the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains; our Desert Living Courtyard filled with home landscaping ideas, which promote native and arid-land plants in a variety of design aesthetics; and our Saguaro Discovery Trail where visitors explore the saguaro both through its cultural connections to the Tohono O'odham and through its botanical connections to the natural history of the Sonoran Desert.
the Tohono Chul Park's changing indoor arts and cultural exhibitions are strongly community oriented, and feature community groups and artists of all ages.
Tohono Chul Park's educational philosophy blends the ecological, cultural, and artistic, this approach distinguishing us in the community. Our programs are designed to enable audiences to reach a better understanding of the relationships that shape the land -- the complex interplay among the desert and its plants, animals and people. With this understanding comes a richer appreciation for the desert's allure and a heightened sense of the need to preserve its beauty and biodiversity.
History of the Tohono Chul Park
The story of Tohono Chul Park begins 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, the Wilsons purchased the section containing the hacienda-style "West House" known today as the Tohono Chul Park Tea Room. The Wilsons lived in this house for eight years. In 1979, they opened the Haunted Bookshop on the Tohono Chul Park's east side.
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, 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 greenspace and opening it to the public.
Tohono Chul Park was formally dedicated as a 37-acre desert preserve on April 19, 1985. The Wilsons deeded the property to the non-profit foundation, Tohono Chul Park, Inc. in 1988.
"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."
The 49-acre Tohono Chul Park is a leading Southwest center of desert nature, arts and culture -- and is listed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the top 22 Secret Gardens in the U.S. and Canada. There is something for everyone at Tohono Chul Park. 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. Discover its nature! Call: 742-6455 for information.
From I-10: Take the Ina Road exit and drive east approximately five miles. After the La Canada stoplight, get into the left lane. The next stoplight is Paseo del Norte on the north side of the street. Turn left and proceed to the first driveway on your right, which is the entrance to the Tohono Chul Park and the Tea Room.
From east Tucson: Go north to Sunrise Drive. Turn left on Sunrise and continue west. Sunrise will become Skyline Drive and then Ina Road. One stoplight west of Oracle Road, turn right on Paseo del Norte and proceed to the first driveway on your right, which is the entrance to the Tohono Chul Park and the Tea Room.
From central Tucson: Go north on Oracle Road. Turn left or 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, which is the entrance to the Tohono Chul Park and the Tea Room.
From Oro Valley: Take Oracle Road south to Ina Road. Turn right. Drive to the next stoplight at Paseo del Norte and turn right. Proceed to the first driveway on your right, which is the entrance to the Tohono Chul Park and the Tea Room.
Tucson's Tohono Chul Park located at 7366 N Paseo del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704, -- are open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Visitors through Admissions by 5:00 pm may enjoy the Tohono Chul Park until sunset. the Tohono Chul Park is open for free on New Year's Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas. On holidays, the Tohono Chul Park buildings are closed, but the grounds are open for all to enjoy.
For more information: 520-742-6455 or www.tohonochulpark.org
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