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Arizona Wildlife Viewing
If you’re an avid animal lover, Arizona's biodiversity will astound you. From the bighorn sheep that inhabit the desert to the elk, deer, turkey and javelina of Central and Northern Arizona, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of nature at its wildest.
Arizona’s wildlife zoos and preserves also provide fun and educational experiences that connect you with the natural world, while creating a fun adventure for the whole family.
- Southern Arizona
An ideal place to start your Arizona wildlife adventure is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a world-famous desert zoo and arboretum located just west of Tucson. Southern Arizona is also an ideal location for butterfly watching. The two-tailed swallowtail, the state butterfly of Arizona, is one favorite here, but more than 100 species normally fly through Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise and southern Graham counties during the summer season.
- Central Arizona
Much of Central Arizona may be urban, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t wildlife to explore. Cotton-tailed rabbits, snakes, tortoises, bats and lizards are just a few of the animals you’ll find here. Located on Highway 60 just southeast of Wickenburg, the Hassayampa River Preserve is another great spot for both birding and wildlife, with deer, javelina, bobcats and more all making an appearance.
- North Central Arizona
One of the highest concentrations of black bears in the nation exists in the Mazatzal Wilderness area in the Tonto and Coconino national forests southwest of Strawberry. Wildlife like elk, deer, turkey and javelina are also plentiful here, while bobcats tend to stake out upland deserts and high-country forests, and mountain lions congregate near cavernous areas under 10,000 feet.
- Northern Arizona
Don't miss the Bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mountain lions and other mammals that roam the canyons and plateaus of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Rocky Mountain bighorns can also be found in the eastern portions of Northern Arizona.
Arizona’s West Coast
Be sure to visit the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, where in addition to plenty of bird watching, you’ll also find everything from mountain lions and coyotes to Gila monsters and porcupines.
For More Information
Learn more about Arizona wildlife viewing with the following websites:
- Arizona Game & Fish Department
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Arizona Watchable Wildlife Tourism Association
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Desert Botanical Garden
- National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
- Out of Africa Wildlife Park
- Phoenix Zoo
- Saguaro National Park
- Southeast Arizona Butterfly Association
- Fish & Wildlife Services – Arizona National Wildlife Refuges
- Wildlife World Zoo
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