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10 Best Wildlife Parks & Zoos in Arizona

Raptor eagles landing on branches at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

10 Best Wildlife Parks & Zoos in Arizona

Things To Do | January 17, 2023 | SWSS Staff

Arizona isn’t just a desert — it’s also filled with mountains, forests, lakes, and tons of unique types of terrain, making the state’s diverse landscape the perfect home for different types of animals. So, while you’re in town, don’t miss the chance to meet hundreds of native and exotic animals “up close and personal” at some of the top wildlife parks, aquariums, and zoos in Arizona. If you’re looking for a more general list, be sure to check out this list of the best parks in Scottsdale.

Top Zoos & Wildlife Parks in Arizona

Whether you want to stay in Scottsdale or Phoenix or take a road trip to Tuscon, Williams, or the Grand Canyon, there are plenty of zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks you can visit during your vacation in Scottsdale, AZ, from the following list:

1. Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park

Tiger walking forward slowly in Wildlife World Zoo & Safari Park
Credit to Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is located in Litchfield Park and is the largest zoo in Arizona. This zoo is home to 600+ species, including kangaroos, rhinoceros, lions, tigers, and an albino white alligator, and even has an exhibit for baby animals. While all the animals at Wildlife World Zoo are spectacular on their own, the aquarium, petting zoo, and amusement park rides for visitors, like the log flume and rollercoaster, can’t be missed either.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 38 miles
  • General Admission: $45.5o per adult and $25.50 per child

2. Out of Africa Wildlife Park

If you’ve ever wanted to go on a safari but haven’t quite made it to Africa, you’ll come as close as you can get to the authentic experience at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, AZ. At this zoo, you will see lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) on an African Bush Safari, as well as other rescued creatures, like a rhinoceros, leopard, wolves, and antelope. You can also enjoy other experiences, like the Tiger Splash and Giant Snake Show, and can even zipline across the property for a bird’s eye view of the animals.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 102 miles
  • General Admission: $42.95 per adult and $27.95 per child

3. Phoenix Zoo

If you don’t want to travel far from Scottsdale to see animals — you’re in luck. The Phoenix Zoo is just a short drive from Scottsdale and is home to 3,000+ animals. Phoenix Zoo is primarily dedicated to showcasing Arizona’s wildlife, so you’ll find several local species and endangered species here, including Mexican gray wolves, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and native birds. However, the zoo is also home to other animals like elephants, cheetahs, and giraffes.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 4.4 miles
  • General Admission: $37.95 per adult and $27.95 per child

4. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Zoos in Arizona: Raptor eagles landing on a few branches
Credit to Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson is one of the top museums in the United States. This museum spans nearly 100 acres and includes a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and natural history museum. While you’re here, you can see native plants and animal species, like a mule deer, mountain lion, or bobcat, encounter an otter or beaver, wander through the hummingbird aviary, or pet a stingray — to name a few options of many!

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 115 miles
  • General Admission: $29.95 per adult and $19.95 per child

5. Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, located in Prescott, is a nonprofit organization that is 100% dedicated to the conservation of native wild creatures, including black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and other mammals. They are also committed to conserving birds, reptiles, hoofstock, and invertebrates. In addition to your admission fee, you can donate to support the rescued animals at this fabulous organization.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 111 miles
  • General Admission: $15 per adult and $10 per child

6. Bearizona Wildlife Park

Image of black bear climbing a tree in bearizona wildlife park
Credit to Bearizona Wildlife Park

Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams, AZ, is one of the most unique wildlife parks in the country. With both drive-through and walk-through options, visitors can watch bears, wolves, bison, sheep, goats, and deer pass right across the road from them from the comfort of their own vehicle. Then, when you’re finished driving through, you can park the car to explore the walk-through portion of the zoo, which includes beavers, bobcats, jaguars, otters, prairie dogs, and more!

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 172 miles
  • General Admission: $30–$35 per adult and $20–$25 per child

7. OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium, located at the Arizona Boardwalk in Scottsdale, AZ, is the largest aquarium in Arizona, holding 2,000,000+ gallons of water, and one of the best things to do with kids in Scottsdale. While you’re here, you can explore several exhibits, like OdySea Voyager, Rivers of the World, and Penguin Point, and interact with stingrays and surgeons in Touch Pools. You’ll see sharks, sea turtles, penguins, crocodiles, and other species and learn about the aquarium’s conservation efforts during your day at OdySea.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 6.3 miles
  • Cost: $43.95 per adult and $32.95 per child

8. Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland, also located at the Arizona Boardwalk, is another fun destination to explore in Scottsdale, Arizona. Home to thousands of butterflies from around the world, you can encounter up to 70+ different species in an up close and personal experience at Butterfly Wonderland. You can also attend daily shows in the 3D Theater or check out the rainforest reptile and honeybee exhibits. If you’d like, you can buy a combo ticket to visit Butterfly Wonderland and OdySea Aquarium on the same day.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 6.3 miles
  • General Admission: $27.95 per adult and $19.95 per child

9. Reid Park Zoo

Elephant going for a swim in Reid Park zoo
Credit to Reid Park Zoo

Though it’s further from Scottsdale than the zoos in Phoenix, Arizona, if you find yourself in Tuscon, don’t miss the chance to visit Reid Park Zoo. This nonprofit zoo, founded in 1965, is home to 24 acres of animals, including monkeys, elephants, lions, zebras, flamingos, and more. Reid Park Zoo tends to have cheaper rates per person than other zoos in Arizona, so it’s a great option if you’re looking to save some cash on a family outing.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 120 miles
  • General Admission: $10.50 per adult and $6.50 per child

10. Grand Canyon Deer Park & Petting Zoo

The Grand Canyon Deer Park & Petting Zoo, located just outside the Grand Canyon National Park in Williams, Arizona, is a fabulous stop the whole family will love before heading into the national park. While you’re here, you can interact with and feed deer and reindeer, and you can also see elk, llamas, camels, wallabies, a porcupine, and other wild animals.

  • Distance from Scottsdale: 176 miles
  • General Admission: $16 per adult and $9 per child

Find the Perfect Place to Stay in Scottsdale, Arizona, for Proximity to the Best Zoos & Wildlife Parks

If you’re planning to check out these zoos and wildlife sanctuaries during your trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, and are still looking for a place to stay — we encourage you to look through our comfortable, spacious vacation rentals in Scottsdale.We offer dozens of rentals to accommodate groups of all sizes, and our rentals include fabulous amenities, like heated swimming pools, gourmet kitchens, and luxury mattresses! If you find a home you’d like to stay in, reserve your rental today, and reach out to us with any questions — we’re never more than a phone call or email away.


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