University of Arizona Biosphere 2
32540 S. Biosphere Road, Oracle, Arizona 85623
If you’re looking for something unique and educational to do in the Tucson area, we have the perfect thing…. Biosphere 2! It’s nothing like anything else you’ve ever experienced. Think science lab, classroom, and greenhouse all under one roof and you get Biosphere 2.
Located about 30-45 minutes from the heart of Tucson, it is nestled in Oracle, AZ, among desert and mountain peaks. Don’t let the distance deter you though. It’s worth the drive!
The tour for the Biosphere 2 are approximately $20 for adults and about $13 for kids 6-12. They do offer discounts for military and university staff,students, and faculty. Check their website for more information on tickets and discounts. If you have a Tucson Arizona passport, you will find a discount for the tour as well.
Before going on the tour, spend some time at the visitor’s center. Educational stations are found throughout the building for the youngsters. Also, before beginning your tour, take advantage of the clean restrooms, drinking fountains, and soft chairs. There’s a gift shop if you’re interested in picking up a book or souvenir.
From the moment you step out of the visitor’s center, the site ahead will take your breath away. Take the cemented path to the biodome where you will wait for the tour guide. The tour takes about an hour. We were able to take a private tour which may or may not be available, depending on when you take the tour and if there are others that join the group. We began our tour by watching a short video segment about the history of the Biosphere 2 and its purpose. Our guide proceeded to take us through the model quarters of scientists who lived there years ago, looking for solutions to global climate change. To this day, scientists use the biodome in order to maintain their studies as if they were not found on earth. Next, we walked across the way to the next building which contained five very different biomes under glass. The kids’ favorite exhibit was the tropical rainforest. They loved experiencing the effects that come from being in rainforest… i.e., the chirping of the bugs, the smells of the dirt and trees, the humidity that hit us when we walked in the door. Next, we continued through the ocean exhibit and mangrove biomes- which were as equally impressive. It was invigorating to hear the waves crash against the wall and see the diversity among the plant life. Becca found the cacti interesting as we passed through the savannah and on to the desert. We had just visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum so it was a familiar setting for the kids. They were not bashful and asked TONS of questions throughout the tour. Once we saw each biome, the guide took us underneath to the belly and heart of the biosphere. We were impressed with their mechanical infrastructure to keep the dome running successfully. We finished our tour at the ocean biome- this time seeing the underwater life and its adaptations. It was closing time so we didn’t spend much time in this section but the kids were impressed with what they saw and wanted to know more.
There are areas throughout the tour where a walker,wheelchair, or baby stroller would be difficult to maneuver so none are permitted. Children must be carried in the front or walk. Also, wear comfortable walking shoes, as you will be walking and standing a good bit.
As you are probably already aware, Arizona is hot and dry for the most part. With that said, snakes are an issue- even near the biosphere. We were warned about the threat of rattlesnakes hiding in the rocks and bushes or simply slithering across the path. With that said, always be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
For more information on the Biosphere 2, check out their website at www./biosphere2.org or call them at 520-838-6200.