Tag Archives: arizona sonora desert museum


Environmental Excellence Awards honor state’s best

The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar earned the coveted President’s Award (Best of Show) in Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards, held in partnership with SRP. The project is the first Made in America streetcar in nearly 60 years.

Arizona Forward celebrated its 35th milestone anniversary of this historic program, in addition to the competition’s statewide expansion. For the first time ever, all categories were open to submittals from anywhere throughout the Grand Canyon State.

“We’re breaking new ground by broadening the scope of our largest, most prominent event, which has become known as the Academy Awards of the environmental community,” Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward announced to nearly 600 business and civic leaders at the Sat., Sept. 12 gala. “It’s inspiring to see all the good work contributing to the environmental sustainability and economic vitality of Arizona cities and towns.” 

More than 120 entries were received in Arizona’s oldest and most prestigious awards competition focusing exclusively on sustainability. Submittals from 30 communities within the Grand Canyon State were represented, 18 of which were outside of Maricopa

County. The ceremony was held at an exclusive new venue, Chateau Luxe, and attended by a prominent audience of influencers representing state, county and municipal organizations, as well as the corporate sector. 

Arizona Forward and SRP presented 17 first-place Crescordia awards and 31 Awards of Merit. Projects were recognized in a range of streamlined categories, including two brand new ones – the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future and Healthy Communities. Other categories include: Buildings & Structures, Energy & Technology Innovation, Site Development, Art in Public Places, Environmental Education/Communication and the SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship. 

Jurists selected the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar for top honors because the iconic project is vital to improving the look and feel of downtown Tucson while providing a much-needed boost to the community’s infrastructure. The $196 million endeavor is the largest and most complex construction project the city of Tucson has ever undertaken. The project also earned a first-place Crescordia in the Healthy Communities Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity category. Crescordia is a Greek term meaning, “to grow in harmony,” and the President’s Award is selected from among all Crescordia recipients.

Running through the city’s largest activity centers, the Sun Link Streetcar connects more than 100,000 people who live and work in the vicinity. It provides affordable, clean and comfortable travel, connecting five of Tucson’s most unique districts along a 4-mile line with 23 stops along the way.

The construction of the streetcar generated more than 500 jobs and triggered six new housing projects along the corridor. Boasting about 4,000 riders per day, this innovative project is fostering and connecting a healthy, vibrant community in southern Arizona.

Five southern Arizona projects earned first-place Crescordia awards, including the notable Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales. Northern Arizona yielded three Crescordia awards: the Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection, The Arizona National Scenic Trail, and Northern Arizona University’s multi-panel solar thermal hot air system. Central Arizona earned nine Crescordia awards. 

Steve Seleznow, president & CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation, served as lead judge for the competition. Other jurists include: William Auberle, senior consulting engineer of Pinyon Environmental Inc.; Klindt Breckenridge, president of Breckenridge Group Architects/

Planners; Robert Breunig, president emeritus for the Museum of Northern Arizona; Joseph Loverich, senior project manager for JE Fuller Hydrology and Geomorphology; Christopher McIsaac, policy advisor for energy and environment for the Office of the Arizona Governor; Suzanne Pfister, president & CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives; Lori Singleton, director emerging customer programs – solar, sustainability and telecom at SRP; Stephanie Rowe, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Reece Angell Rowe Architects; Richard Underwood, owner & president at AAA Landscape; and Cree Zischke, director of philanthropy at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Since its inception in 1969 as Valley Forward, Arizona Forward has brought business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the sustainability of communities throughout the state. The organization operates with the belief that businesses must take a leadership role in solving the complex and sometimes controversial problems that confront growing population centers.

In addition to Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, Crescordia winners include:

TEAM ARIZONA COLORADO RIVER SHORTAGE AND DROUGHT PREPAREDNESS (City of Phoenix/Central Arizona Water Conservation District/ADWR Partnership) — Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future

In response to dwindling supplies, Arizonans are forming strategic alliances and innovative water management strategies toward ensuring an adequate, safe and sustainable supply. Water providers and planners have stored nearly 3.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water underground; partnered to store Central Arizona Project water in Tucson aquifers; aligned with irrigation districts in central Arizona and other partners to conserve and store water in Lake Mead; provided $5 million to help fund the pilot Colorado River System Conservation Program; and established the Northern Arizona Forest Fund to protect the state’s watersheds. These collaborative efforts have significantly increased the resiliency of Arizona’s water supplies.

TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PIONEERING 11 MW SOLAR PROJECT (Natural Power and Energy)—Governor’s Award for Energy & Technology Innovation, Southern Arizona

At more than 11 megawatts, Tucson Unified School District’s groundbreaking solar generation project encompasses 42 schools and is the largest distributed school solar project in the nation without utility incentives. It represents TUSD’s commitment to renewable energy, reducing its carbon footprint, saving money and serving as a model of environmental stewardship to students and other school districts. The project will ultimately supply about 80 percent of the electricity needed at each site, save an estimated $170,000 in energy costs in its first year and more than $11 million over the 20-year term. Systems are now operational at 15 schools. 

MARIPOSA LAND PORT OF ENTRY (Jones Studio) — Buildings & Structures (Civic)

One of the busiest land ports in the U.S., the Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, processes more than 2.8 million northbound vehicles each year. Built in the 1970s, the port demanded modernization and expansion due to growth in international trade and traffic volume. Completed in August 2014, the LEED Gold certified 55-acre site contains 270,000 gross square feet of buildings, inspection facilities and kennels for both southbound and northbound traffic. The central spine of the port is the oasis, a desert garden that runs the length of the main buildings.

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA OLD MAIN RESTORATION (The University of Arizona) — Buildings & Structures (Historic Preservation)

Opening in 1891, Old Main was the first building on the University of Arizona campus. The approach to preserving this historical structure included bringing the exterior appearance and features back to their original grandeur while placing the functionality of a 21st-century university into a 19th-century shell. Old Main is the oldest LEED certified building in Arizona and a model for sustainable historical preservation. The existing building envelope was largely unaltered, yet new mechanical systems reduced energy use by 24 percent. Deteriorated masonry was restored instead of replaced. Subterranean water infiltration was addressed through concealed drainage systems that preserved the existing habitat comprising the Old Main “teardrop” site.

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA EASTON COLLECTION CENTER (Kinney Construction Services Inc.)— Buildings and Structures (Commercial & Institutional)

The Easton Collection Center is a 17,282-square-foot LEED Platinum certified facility. It provides an optimal environment for long-term storage of priceless museum collections and sets a high standard for environmental sustainability while reflecting the character of the region and its cultures. Features include a 14,000-square-foot living roof, a 22,000-gallon rain/snow water harvesting cistern, drought-tolerant native plants and bioswales to utilize surface runoff. The facility was designed around existing ponderosa pines, none of which were removed. Following recommendations from an American Indian Advisory Committee, the building has a number of symbolic and functional elements designed to make the Native community feel at home in the structure.


Reclamation Department) — Buildings and Structures (Industrial & Public Works)

The Regional Optimization Master Plan is among the largest construction projects in southern Arizona. It significantly upgraded and modernized the metropolitan portion of the Pima County Regional Wastewater System, resulting in water clarity and quality improvements; reduction of nutrient pollution; declining effluent flow extent due to higher infiltration rates; and aquatic wildlife quantity and diversity showing signs of improvement. The entire program was completed in 2014 at a cost of $605 million. Design and construction followed two intensive years of planning and coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, national engineering firms and local stakeholders.


Environmental Design) — Healthy Communities (Sustainable Communities)

The Downtown Tolleson Redevelopment Project was a 1-mile urban revitalization effort that set out to create a true sense of place for the city of Tolleson. It reflects the city’s history, culture and spirit while integrating sustainable design principles. The pedestrian-friendly destination environment serves as an economic driver for the community and provides a foundation for fostering private investment. Wide pedestrian sidewalk zones encourage restaurants to utilize on-street dining. Many of the themed custom-designed elements, including the award-winning art sculpture program, dynamic paving system, signage and custom tiled seat walls, reflect the cultural story of Tolleson and its proud heritage.

LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT (City of Mesa) — Healthy Communities (Public Policy/Plans)

Like most communities spanning Arizona, the cities of Mesa and Glendale historically considered stormwater to be a nuisance that needed to be quickly eliminated through an expensive pipe and channel system. By developing and advancing Low Impact Development, these communities are shifting the stormwater paradigm and recognizing stormwater as a resource that can be used to promote healthy urban communities. LID is a stormwater management method that engages native materials and simple tools to reduce runoff and pollution. The toolkit provides a user-friendly menu of LID methods, best practices, technical requirements and construction details that help communities restore washes and enhance streetscapes or parks while cooling down cities at night.

HONEYWELL ARIZONA AEROSPACE – BEING THE DIFFERENCE! (Honeywell)— Healthy Communities (Sustainable Workplaces)

Employees at seven Honeywell Aerospace sites in Arizona are empowered and encouraged to carry out improvement ideas targeted at reducing the corporation’s environmental footprint.

Since 2007, projects have matured from implementing “Turn It Off” campaigns and installing occupancy sensors on lighting to larger and more impactful efforts, such as completing a Building Envelope Solutions initiative. The focus has also expanded to include water conservation and waste diversion. Since the program’s inception, 595 energy projects targeting energy and water conservation have been executed, resulting in energy savings of 202 billion British thermal units and water savings of 24.8 million gallons. In addition, more than 3.6 million pounds of waste has been diverted from local landfills in the last 18 months alone.

SOLAR THERMAL HOT AIR TECHNOLOGY (Northern Arizona University) — Energy and Technology Innovation

Northern Arizona University this year installed the first known multi-panel solar thermal hot air system in the country, demonstrating a long-standing commitment to decreasing its fossil fuel consumption. While renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind can reduce net electricity use, options for directly reducing fossil-based heating are more limited. Yet heat and hot water comprise nearly half the country’s energy demand so the opportunity for cost-effective solar thermal technology is massive. Technology utilized by NAU and developed by

Phoenix-based SolarThermiX is expected to pay for itself in a fraction of the time of campus solar and wind ventures. It holds promise for more than 650 major educational institutions that have signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment pledging to reduce long-term carbon emissions.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE AVENUE (SmithGroupJJR) — Site Development (Public Sector)

Conceived through a unique public-private partnership between ASU and the City of Tempe, the project transforms the existing multiuse transportation corridor into vital public realm space with a focus on walkability that encourages infill development and adaptive reuse of vacant land and buildings. Incorporating strategies from the National Complete Street Coalition, the project eliminates unused vehicular pavement by narrowing travel lanes to create dedicated bike lanes and shaded pedestrian walkways. A flexible urban plaza serves as a venue for events of all sizes. A unified, integral concrete paving design for the street, sidewalks and plaza spaces creates an extension of indoor and outdoor areas associated with nearby retail, including ASU’s College Avenue Commons. The use of bollards, lighting and street trees delineate traffic, creating separation for bicyclists and users while allowing for flexibility in event staging. The “new” people-focused College Avenue has transformed this district into a vital active space, providing a gateway to the city of Tempe and ASU that will serve generations to come.

VALLEY PARTNERSHIP COMMUNITY PROJECT (Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped) — Site Development (Private Sector)

Valley Partnership’s innovative annual Community Service Project this year benefited not only the Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped, a disability service provider, but also the community at large. This collaborative effort involved more than 92 different companies from throughout the Valley joining together to design/build a work site project using donated resources. Grounds of the facility, used daily by people with disabilities, were transformed into a therapeutic garden featuring desert plants and accessible space that serves the entire neighborhood. Landscaping enhances the area’s environmental quality and conserves natural resources, with catchment areas to harvest water for native plant irrigation. Raised gardens allow people with disabilities to grow herbs and vegetables for meals prepared daily. Adapted gaming areas and eco-friendly park furnishings promote health and well-being.

THE ARIZONA TRAIL ASSOCIATION’S GIFT TO ARIZONA (Arizona Trail Association)— Site Development (Parks and Trails)

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is one of the most innovative and unique approaches to fostering long term environmental sustainability throughout the state. This extraordinary project spotlights Arizona’s amazing biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, encouraging stewardship of our natural assets. The vison was conceived 30 years ago by Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff sixth-grade teacher who sought a way to instill a spirit of conservation in Arizonans through experiential environmental education. It became the mission of the Arizona Trail Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994. Thousands of people were inspired by the concept and toiled tirelessly to establish an 800-mile sustainable pathway from Mexico to Utah. Today, the Arizona Trail links deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, communities and people in a pathway that is protected in perpetuity by an act of Congress.

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIRPORT TERMINAL 3, SKY TRAIN STATION PLATFORM AND BRIDGE (City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture) — Art in Public Places

Arizona artist Janelle Stanley merged her experience as a Diné (Navajo) weaver with contemporary design to create the terrazzo floors at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Sky Train Bridge and Platform at Terminal 3. She relied on Diné weaving and basketry patterns to design the flowing shapes and intricate details in the floors’ winding paths of color, pattern and surprising textures. On the transfer bridge, the turquoise blue and black overlays represent the twisting and spinning that strengthens and elongates wool into yarn. The design of the station platform was inspired by details from Haak’u (Acoma) pottery and a piece of treasured family jewelry. Both designs convey the artist’s interest in expanding her cultural heritage to create vibrant new public spaces. The floors were fabricated by Corradini Corporation, using about 100,000 pounds of crushed aggregate, 20,000 linear feet of divider strip and 9,000 custom waterjet-cut pieces. This spectacular project will enhance the traveling experience for visitors and residents alike for years to come.

CITY OF PEORIA SUSTAINABLE U (City of Peoria) — Environmental Education/Communication

(Public and Private Sectors)

The City of Peoria’s Sustainable U program is open to all Arizona residents to educate, demonstrate and empower citizens to make responsible choices and lifestyle changes to reduce their environmental impact. By 2030, it is estimated that almost 5 billion of the world’s population will live in cities. The City of Peoria has a long history of educating its residents about water conservation, stormwater pollution and waste management. Recognizing the importance of education in changing behaviors, the city of Peoria created this new initiative to empower people to make a difference. Sustainable U offers a diverse list of workshops that utilize in-house experts, community partners and the Valley Permaculture Alliance. These engaging, interactive and fun workshops focus on topics such as: desert landscaping, edible landscapes, energy efficiency, composting, recycling, renewable energy, culinary classes, rainwater harvesting, and composting.


School of Architecture) — Environmental Education/Communication (Educators, Students and Nonprofit Organizations)

The University of Arizona School of Architecture has long held a reputation for teaching that fosters a respect and reverence for the environment. As topics of climate change and sustainability become increasingly urgent, UA felt it was necessary to develop ways to improve its curriculum to address the needs of the future. In surveying what peer universities were doing, UA discovered that single classes or lectures were becoming commonplace. Upon further research and discussion, its Sustainability Pedagogy Task Force proposed using the entire five-year Design Studio sequence, which is the backbone of the curriculum, as the armature for investigating and teaching the principals of sustainable design. Over the course of the five-year sequence, each area of focus is highlighted at least once, so it becomes evident to students how the entirety of the sustainability issue might be seen holistically.


Sustainability is core to all facets of operations at Arizona State University’s Facilities Management Grounds Services/Arboretum/Recycling departments on the Tempe campus.

The grounds team began analyzing operations about 10 years ago, making some easy changes such as leaving grass clippings on the turf and eliminating unneeded desk phones. Then they started sending all green landscape waste to Singh Farms to be converted to compost. The finished product was returned to campus for use in an organic fertilizer program, along with coffee grounds collected from university cafes. ASU’s recycling program now encompasses all

campuses and includes commingled blue bins, organics, a student “Ditch the Dumpster” initiative, construction debris recycling and special collection streams, all around a zero waste goal. This highly sustainable university also installed some of the Valley’s first solar-operated landfill and recycling compactors.




Name of Entry: Team Arizona Colorado River Shortage and Drought Preparedness

Submitted by: City of Phoenix/CAWCD/ADWR Partnership


Name of Entry: Central Arizona Conservation Alliance

Submitted by: Desert Botanical Garden


Name of Entry: NAU Solar Thermal Air Heating

Submitted by: Northern Arizona University




Name of Entry: Mariposa Land Port of Entry

Submitted by: Jones Studio



Submitted by: LEA Architects, LLC


Name of Entry: City of Maricopa City Hall

Submitted by: Gensler 


Historic Preservation


Name of Entry: The University of Arizona Old Main Restoration

Submitted by: Sundt Construction, Inc.


Name of Entry: The Newton

Submitted by: John Douglas Architects


Name of Entry: Silver King Marketplace / Padilla Park

Submitted by: EPG


Commercial & Institutional


Name of Entry: Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection Center

Submitted by: Kinney Construction Services, Inc. (KCS)


Name of Entry: Arizona State University Downtown – Sun Devil Fitness Complex

Submitted by: Gabor Lorant Architects, Inc.


Name of Entry: The VILLAGE at Prescott College

Submitted by: WEDDLE GILMORE black rock studio


Industrial & Public Works


Name of Entry: Regional Optimization Master Plan

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department


Name of Entry: Clarkdale’s Broadway Water Reclamation Facility

Submitted by: Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona


Name of Entry: Cornell │ Cookson Industrial Door Manufacturing and Offices

Submitted by: Jones Studio


Sustainable Communities


Name of Entry: Downtown Tolleson Redevelopment Project: Paseo de Luces

Submitted by: J2 Engineering and Environmental Design


Name of Entry: Stepping Stone Place

Submitted by: Chasse Building Team


Name of Entry: Mountain Park Health Center

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity


Name of Entry: Sun Link Tucson Streetcar

Submitted by: Engineering and Environmental Consultants


Name of Entry: Hardy and University Drives Streetscape Projects

Submitted by: City of Tempe


Name of Entry: GRID Bike Share

Submitted by: City of Phoenix


Public Policy/Plans


Name of Entry: Low-Impact Development Toolkit

Submitted by: City of Mesa, AZ


Name of Entry: ReinventPHX

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department


Name of Entry: Northern Arizona Forest Fund

Submitted by: National Forest Foundation


Sustainable Workplaces


Name of Entry: Honeywell Arizona Aerospace – Being the Difference!

Submitted by: Honeywell


Name of Entry: Risk Recycling

Submitted by: Maricopa County, Risk Management Department


Name of Entry: Workplace Wellness Nurtures Work Well Done

Submitted by: U-Haul International



Name of Entry: Solar Thermal Hot Air Technology

Submitted by: Northern Arizona University


Name of Entry: IO Modular Deployment

Submitted by: IO


Name of Entry: InfinitPipe®

Submitted by: QuakeWrap, Inc.


Public Sector


Name of Entry: Arizona State University, College Avenue

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Name of Entry: Phoenix Tennis Center

Submitted by: Hoskin Ryan Consultants, Inc.


Name of Entry: GateWay Community College Integrated Education Building

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Private Sector


Name of Entry: Valley Partnership Community Project

Submitted by: Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped


Name of Entry: Airport I-10

Submitted by: Wespac Construction Inc.


Parks and Trails


Name of Entry: The Arizona Trail Association’s Gift to Arizona

Submitted by: Arizona Trail Association


Name of Entry: Echo Canyon Recreation Area Trailhead Improvements

Submitted by: EPG


Name of Entry: Riverview Park

Submitted by: City of Mesa



Name of Entry: Phoenix Sky Harbor Terminal Three Sky Train Station Platform and Bridge

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Shade for Transit Series

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Pinnacle Peak Water Reservoir Public Art Project

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Public and Private Sectors


Name of Entry: City of Peoria Sustainable U

Submitted by: City of Peoria 


Name of Entry: 7th Avenue @ Melrose Curve Recycling Awareness

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Avondale – I Heart Environment

Submitted by: City of Avondale


Educators, Students, and Nonprofit Organizations


Name of Entry: Bachelor of Architecture Sustainability Pedagogy

Submitted by: University of Arizona School of Architecture


Name of Entry: Mrs. Green’s World

Submitted by: Mrs. Green’s World


Name of Entry: Water RAPIDS (Research and Planning Innovations in Dryland Systems) Program

Submitted by: Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona



Name of Entry: Arizona State University Facilities Management Grounds/Recycling

Submitted by: Arizona State University


Name of Entry: Sun Link Tucson Streetcar

Submitted by: Engineering and Environmental Consultants

Tucson Adventures - EAZ Fall-Winter 2012

Top 5: Tucson Adventures (Fall-Winter 2012)

The Top 5 Tucson Adventures — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Old Tucson Studios

201 S. Kinney Rd.,
Tucson, AZ 85735
(520) 883-0100
Old Tucson Studios is an Old West theme park and a working movie location where you’ll find Western movie history, historical tours, shopping, seasonal events and more.

Biosphere 2

32540 S. Biosphere Rd.,
Oracle, AZ 85623
(502) 838-6200
The $150-million facility opened in 1991 as a massive closed system that would last for 100 years to test nature, technology and human endurance. Opened to the public in 2002, visitors to Biosphere 2 can explore inside the 3.15-acre structure on a fully-guided tour.

University of Arizona

1200 E. University Blvd.,
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 621-2211
With its main campus covering 380 acres in Central Tucson, this university offers plenty of attractions and activities, including the Arizona State Museum, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Campus Arboretum and more.

Mission San Xavier Del Bac

1950 W. San Xavier Rd.,
Tucson, AZ 85746
(520) 294-2624
Mission San Xavier del Bac is referred to as the “White Dove of the Desert.” This active Franciscan mission is located on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

2021 N. Kinney Rd.,
Tucson, AZ 85743
(520) 883-2702
A world-renowned zoo, with more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants, a natural history museum and a botanical garden — all in one place.

Experience AZ Fall-Winter 2012


Seahorse (Alex Kerstitch) (

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Announces Its New Warden Aquarium

Any interpretation of the Sonoran Desert region would be incomplete without recognizing the importance of the fresh water rivers that flow through it and the Sea of Cortez or Gulf of California. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will unveil its dramatic, new permanent aquarium dedicated to revealing the remarkable story of this miraculous region in December 2012.

“Without this sea and the summer monsoon that brings moisture from it, the lush Sonoran Desert known today would be an entirely different place,” state Craig Ivanyi, Executive Director of the Museum. “This body of water truly represents a full half of the Sonoran Desert Region – literally 100,000 square miles of desert-ocean and an astounding 900 islands!”

This exhibition, “Rivers to the Sea”, in the new Warden Aquarium, will highlight the roles of the region’s rivers, including the mighty Colorado, and the Gulf of California. Two galleries are planned: one highlighting the region’s freshwater rivers and aquatic life and the other featuring the Sea of Cortez and representative sea life. Primary funding for the new exhibition was generously provided by the Bert W. Martin Foundation.

The galleries will encompass over 1,100 square feet and include 14 tanks displaying a variety of fresh- and salt-water animal species. Some of the Museum’s numerous aquatic conservation projects impacting many aquatic species will be highlighted in the galleries.
The exhibition area will also include a touch tank with marine invertebrates, like sea stars and hermit crabs, for a hands-on encounter for visitors. A visit to the new Warden Aquarium will be included with the purchase of a general admission ticket.

The Sea of Cortez is extremely diverse containing one of the world’s smallest and most endangered marine mammals, the vaquita, a rare type of porpoise, migratory whales that no longer migrate, over 800 types of fishes, five species of sea turtles, and the rarely encountered American crocodile. In addition to the varied species of wildlife, the Sea of Cortez provides much of the moisture for the region’s summer rains which have tremendously influenced vegetation on the terrestrial part of the Sonoran Desert Region.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is one of the nation’s leading outdoor, living museums, featuring more than 230 animals and 1,200 varieties of desert plants. Its mission is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the bi-national Sonoran Desert region. The museum is located at 2021 N. Kinney Road, in Tucson Mountain Park adjacent to Saguaro National Park (West). It is open daily year round with operating hours varying by season. Call (520) 883-2702 or visit www.desertmuseum.org for more information.

Top 5 Southern AZ Must-See Spots (Spring-Summer 2012)

Top 5: Southern AZ Must-See Spots (Spring-Summer 2012)

The Top 5 Southern AZ Must-See Spots — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743
A world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden — all in one place. Within the museum grounds, you will see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

2980 S. Hwy. 90, Benson, AZ 85602
520-586-CAVE (2283)
Discovered in 1974, these caverns recently opened to the public and feature stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations. Guided cave tours, a discovery center, interactive displays, gift shops, 62 camping sites, hiking and walking trails.

Mission San Xavier Del Bac

1950 W. San Xavier Rd., Tucson, AZ 85746
Mission San Xavier del Bac is referred to as the “White Dove of the Desert.” This active Franciscan mission is located on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation.

Queen Mine Tour

Hwy 80, Historic Old Bisbee exit, Bisbee, AZ 85603
Don a mining lantern, hat and slicker and ride the mine train deep into the mine and experience the life of the miners as they tell you how they toiled in the subterranean tunnels. Fun and educational for the whole family. Tours last about one hour and are offered five times a day, seven days a week.

Titan Missile Museum

1580 W. Duval Mine Rd., Sahuarita, AZ 85629
Once one of America’s most top secret places, this National Historic Landmark site and one-of-a-kind museum gives visitors a rare look at the technology used by the United States to deter nuclear war. Tour the underground missile site. See the 3-ton blast doors, the 8-foot thick silo walls, and an actual Titan II missile in the launch duct. Visit the launch control center, experience a simulated launch and more.

Experience AZ Spring-Summer 2012

Top 5 Southern Arizona Day Trips (Spring-Summer 2012)

Top 5: Southern Arizona Day Trips (Spring-Summer 2012)

The Top 5 Southern Arizona Day Trips — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

2021 N. Kinney Rd.,
Tucson, AZ 85743
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place. Exhibits re-create the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region so realistically you find yourself eye-to-eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and more.

Sonoita Vineyards

290 Elgin-Canelo Rd.,
Elgin, AZ 85611
The oldest commercial vineyard and winery in Arizona, Sonoita Vineyards opened in 1983 and includes more than 25 acres of vines. The vineyard created a Cabernet Sauvignon that was served at a Presidential Inauguration Gala.


P.O. Box 813
Tombstone, AZ 85638
The name Tombstone creates images of gunfights and dusty streets, whiskey and Faro games, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and a plethora of old Western movie scenes. Tombstone has been called “The Town Too Tough to Die.”


1326 W. Highway 92, Suite #9,
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Bisbee was founded in 1880 and has since evolved into an artist colony and retirement community emphasizing monthly events and tourism. Travelers from all over the world come to Bisbee to savor its unique charm … a blend of creativity, friendliness, style, romance and adventure wrapped in the splendor of the Old West.


P.O. Box 1866,
Tubac, AZ 85646
Located in the Santa Cruz River Valley, Tubac has a 250-year-old Spanish history. Tubac is the perfect shoppers’ paradise with more than 80 galleries and shops that feature hand-crafted items, sculpture,
paintings, clothing and some of Southern Arizona’s best import shops. Tubac is also the gateway to birding, hiking,  and mountain biking.

Experience AZ Spring-Summer 2012

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Photo: Flickr, DrStarbuck

Things To Do In Arizona: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Take a tour at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and you’ll quickly understand why this museum attracts millions of visitors to its grounds. With an assortment of animals in their natural settings and instructional, educational programs, the Arizona-Sonora Desert is not only a must-see, but a must-experience.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s commitment to research and protection of plants, animals and the land of the Sonoran Desert region has helped the museum attain its goal to connect people and nature. For instance, its natural history museum of the Sonoran Desert comes complete 1,200 kinds of plants within its botanical garden and exhibits that recreate the desert as well as 300 animal species. With almost two miles of paths to trek on the 21 acres of desert landscape, this breathtaking experience will have visitors questioning their eyes as they struggle to believe how such beauty can exist in one museum.

Also found at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum is the Center for Sonoran Desert Studies, a hub for research, education and conservation of the Sonoran Desert. The Center for Sonoran Desert Studies provides interdisciplinary studies with a focus on whole-organism and community biology, projects that promote habitat conservation, as well as collaboration with the people of Mexico in its research and education.

The museum also welcomes field trips and offers classes and outreach programs to visit the museum year-round. Summer, Winter and Earth camps are available as well as a Coati Kids’ Club for ages 6-12. Scouts and preschool programs are also welcome to participate and plan events at this unique museum that makes connecting with nature so easy.

For more information about the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, visit desertmuseum.org.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N. Kinney Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85743
(520) 883-2702

Laser light show at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Tucson

July 4 Laser Light Show At The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

Who needs a fireworks display when you can have a laser light show?

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain — a luxury resort in Tucson, Ariz. — is replacing its July 4th fireworks display with just that — a patriotic-themed laser light show, featuring custom light choreography. Inspired by Dove Mountain’s canyon setting, the light spectacular will take place the evening of July 3 and will last approximately 30 minutes.The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Independence Day Weekend 2011

The Ritz-Carlton will begin its weekend-long festivities on Friday, July 1 with many activities and events for the entire family. Friday’s events include lawn games for children, the CORE Beer Experience, dive-in movies, a night golf putting challenge, Ranger Rick’s evening Bug Experience, and plenty of dining options.

Saturday, July 2, expect plenty of outdoor games, including Aventura lawn games, Bocce Ball tournament, a night sky telescope experience, as well as brunch, a candy counting contest, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Wildlife activity, and more.

Sunday is the big day with the laser light show as well as the Fourth of July barbecue buffet with live entertainment, more lawn games and dive-in movies.

The resort’s restaurants and barbecue buffet is open to the public, as is the new laser light show.

For more information, about The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain and its Independence Day weekend itinerary, visit www.ritzcarlton.com.


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If You Go

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
15000 N. Secret Springs Dr.
Marana, AZ 85658


Mission San Xavier del Bac is also known as the "White Dove of the Desert."

Southern Arizona Day Trips

Want to get away, but don’t have the time to plan a vacation? Then a short, fun day trip is the perfect option. Check out this list of southern Arizona attractions to plan a great day trip.

  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
    2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson
    The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place.

  • Bisbee
    1 Main St., Bisbee
    In the 1880s, this was once an important mining center. Today, it flourishes as a tourist town.

  • Chiricahua National Monument
    13063 E. Bonita Canyon Rd., Willcox
    520-824-3560 ext. 302
    The monument is a mecca for hikers and birders. Chiricahua plants and animals represent one of the premier areas for biological diversity in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Colossal Cave Mountain Park
    16721 E. Old Spanish Tr., Vail
    Colossal Cave, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, had been used for centuries by prehistoric peoples when it was discovered in 1879.

  • Fort Bowie National Historic Site
    3203 S. Old Fort Bowie Rd., Bowie
    The site of the Bascom Affair, a wagon train massacre, and the battle of Apache Pass, where a large force of Chiricahua Apaches under Mangus Colorados and Cochise fought the California Volunteers. It stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the Western frontier.

  • Ironwood Forest National Monument
    BLM Tucson Field Office: 12661 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson
    The 129,000-acre monument contains significant cultural and historical sites covering a 5,000-year period. Possessing one of the richest stands of Ironwood trees in the Sonoran Desert, the area encompasses several desert mountain ranges including the Silver Bell, Waterman and Sawtooth, with desert valleys in between. Elevation ranges from 1,800 to 4,261 feet.

  • Kartchner Caverns State Park
    2980 S. Hwy. 90, Benson
    520-586-CAVE (2283)
    Discovered in 1974, these caverns just recently opened to the public and feature stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations.

  • Kitt Peak National Observatory
    Off of SR 86 on the Tohono O’odham Nation, Tucson
    Kitt Peak is the world’s largest working astronomical observatory. Open daily.

  • Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
    BLM Tucson Field Office: 12661 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson
    Designated by Congress in 2000, this 42,000-acre area consists of vast desert grassland and rolling, oak-studded hills with a diverse plant and animal life, including several threatened or endangered species. Las Cienegas contains cultural resources within its borders, such as Empire Ranch House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, mines and mining towns, and historic travel routes. Visitor activities include birdwatching, camping, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking and scenic drives.

  • Mission San Xavier Del Bac
    1950 W. San Xavier Rd., Tucson
    Framed in the warm browns of the surrounding hills and the violet shadows of distant mountains, it rises, brilliantly white from the desert floor of dusty green mesquite and sage.

  • Old Tucson Studios
    201 S. Kinney Rd., Tucson
    Arizona’s Hollywood in the Desert since 1939. This world-famous working film location offers fun for the whole family — guided historical set tours, live stunt shows, gunfights, and saloon musicals, plus rides for the kids! While you’re here, enjoy a scenic trail ride in the unique and beautiful Arizona Sonora Desert.

  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
    10 Organ Pipe Dr., Ajo
    520-387-6849 ext. 0
    This scenic 516-square-mile preserve is filled with Organ Pipe Cactus, rare in the United States, scattered among mountains and plains.

  • Picacho Peak State Park
    Hiking, camping and picnicking 60 miles southeast of Phoenix, just off I-10.

  • Reid Park Zoo
    1100 S. Randolph Way, Tucson
    Come visit Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo and have a wild time. Meet more than 400 animals — rhinos, elephants, anteaters, polar bears, lions and many more. Venture into the African, Asian and South American regions. Explore the Flight Connection — the full-flight, walkthrough aviary.

  • Saguaro National Park
    2700 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson
    This national park protects more than 3,500 acres of native plants and animals.

  • San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
    BLM Tucson Field Office: 12661 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson
    This 57,000-acre area contains 40 miles of the San Pedro River, which is home to more than 100 species of birds and more than 400 species of migrating and wintering bird species.

  • Tombstone
    Truly a historical American landmark, Tombstone is America’s best example of 1880 Western heritage, with original 1880s buildings, artifacts featured in numerous museums, gunfight re-enactments and Wild West legends.

  • Tucson
    100 S. Church Ave., Tucson
    Surrounded by rugged mountain ranges, the Old Pueblo is an international travel destination alive with character, history, art, cultural diversity, outdoor adventure and charm.

  • Yuma
    201 N. Fourth Ave., Yuma
    A visit to this growing metropolis offers something for everyone, from outdoor adventures to historic sites and museums. Yuma is also a great base for easy day trips “South of the Border,” and boasts varied dining, shopping and multiple casinos.
Mexican gray wolf photographed by Joel Sartore

Valley Forward Hosts 41st Annual Luncheon Featuring National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore

Valley Forward hosted its 41st Annual Luncheon Dec. 3, and the event was wild — literally. Guests were greeted by a menagerie of interesting wildlife at this year’s event thanks to the Desert Botanical Garden, Liberty Wildlife, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, The Phoenix Zoo and the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium. Several animals were showcased at the environmental education exhibits including a bald eagle, American alligator, greyhound owl, African-crested porcupine and more. These exhibits transformed all the attendees back to their school-age, zoo-visiting days, and truly served as a reminder for the topic that was discussed at the luncheon — the importance of fostering our environment.

The keynote speaker  was Joel Sartore, noted wildlife photographer at National Geographic Magazine, author and passionate environmentalist. Sartore presented a heartfelt speech about the importance of helping preserve our environment and making sure that despite the fervent pace of technology innovations, future generations value and experience the great outdoors.

Sartore has witnessed much of the devastation firsthand during his 20 plus years at National Geographic. He has photographed, among others, environmental tragedies such as the recent Gulf Coast oil spill, endangered species and more. His dedication to the cause is also demonstrated in his latest book, Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, featuring endangered species from all over the world including several from Arizona. Sartore hopes that by photographing wildlife that many people don’t even realize exist, it will draw attention to their cause and maybe help save them. His experience provided the audience with an amazing look into this wild world and what we — everyday, average people — can do to help make a difference.

Congratulations to Valley Forward for once again putting together such an inspiring event. The message of sustainability and environmental stewardship is one that continues to gain momentum. Let’s hope it does so for many years to come.

Read more about Joel Sartore in the November/December issue of AZ Business Magazine here.


Joel Sartore Presenting

Showcased at the environmental education exhibit, a bald eagle.American alligator & African-crested porcupine Joel Sartore - Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species