A beautiful lion at the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo is a wonderful zoo, one of the best I’ve ever visited. It’s the largest non-profit zoo in the country. Large animal enclosures, plenty of landscaping, and gorgeous natural landscapes make this a peaceful place to enjoy a morning stroll. At 125 acres, you will get a decent workout! On the bright side, the animals benefit by having much more space than the typical zoo. All the animals seemed happy walking around in their nature inspired surroundings.

Zebra at the Phoenix Zoo

The zoo is very clean and well-maintained. You won’t see any garbage lying about. In addition, it is surprising lush, and features not only great natural landscapes, but also many beautiful palms, cacti, and other desert plants. The zoo is set up different than most zoos with 4 major walking trails (totaling about 2.5 miles) instead of a large single loop. Some of the zoo is shaded, and if you get too hot, you can always stand under a mister (numerous located throughout the zoo) or visit the splash pad to cool down. Take a look below at some the beautiful desert scenery you will get to experience on your visit.

Water view at the Phoenix Zoo
Palm trees and water views at the Phoenix Zoo
Trail view at the Phoenix Zoo
Lots of pretty palm trees at the Phoenix Zoo
Pretty palms at the Phoenix Zoo
Cactus and other desert plants at the Phoenix Zoo
A variety of pretty desert plants at the Phoenix Zoo
Cactus plants at the Phoenix Zoo
Cactus at the Phoenix Zoo
Cactus at the Phoenix Zoo
Cactus at the Phoenix Zoo
Colorful cactus at the Phoenix Zoo
Variety of cactus found along the trail at the Phoenix Zoo
A variety of cacti found at the Phoenix Zoo

Summer Hours!

Adjusted hours in the summer (7am-2pm) means you can enjoy the zoo before the brutal afternoon heat hits (typically well into the 100’s). Fortunately, most people either do not want to get up at 7 or still can’t stand the summer’s 90 degree mornings, meaning you get to enjoy most of the zoo to yourself! We enjoy strolling around the zoo before it got too hot with barely any tourist traffic. If you can withstand 90 degree morning temperatures, you will benefit with a nice relaxing zoo experience! Clear views of the animals with no crowds around makes setting the alarm early well worth it!

Squirrel Monkey at the Phoenix Zoo

One of the country’s most gorgeous zoos

Overall, the Phoenix zoo is very scenic. You will see all different types of cactus and palm trees during you walk around. The most picturesque portion of the zoo take you through the natural sandstone buttes of Papago Park. A portion of the park has been turned into a Bighorn sheep exhibit. Papago Park is a large area that also houses the Desert Botanical Garden, a large network of trails, and exercise facilities.

Scenic giraffe exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo
Beautiful rock formations at the Phoenix Zoo
Scenic rock formatio at the Phoenix Zoo
Bighorn sheep at the Phoenix Zoo

Meet the Animals!

Over 3000 animals, including 30 endangered species call the Phoenix zoo home. A few of the must-sees include the Andean Bear, flamingos, Sumatran tigers, the lions, and the beautiful giraffes and zebra exhibits. A walk through squirrel monkey exhibit, which allows you to get an up-close view in a no barrier environment, is a unique sight only found at the Phoenix zoo. Take a look below at the beautiful pictures taken during our visit.

Zebra at the Phoenix Zoo
Andean Bear at the Phoenix Zoo
African Wild Dog at the Phoenix Zoo
Giraffe and longhorn at the Phoenix Zoo
Giraffe at the Phoenix Zoo
Komodo Dragon at the Phoenix Zoo
Lions relaxing at the Phoenix Zoo
Female lion at the Phoenix Zoo
Orangutang at the Phoenix Zoo
Orangutang at the Phoenix Zoo
Deer at the Phoenix Zoo
Elephant at the Phoenix Zoo
Flamingos at the Phoenix Zoo
Flamingos at the Phoenix Zoo
Squirel monkey at the Phoenix Zoo
Giant turtle at the Phoenix Zoo
Monkey at the Phoenix Zoo
Parrot at the Phoenix Zoo
Owl at the Phoenix Zoo
Rhino at the Phoenix Zoo
Longhorn at the Phoenix Zoo
Cheetah relaxing at the Phoenix Zoo
The phoenix Zoo

Despite the hot weather, the majority of the animals (with the exception of the missing bobcat and a few sleeping cats) were out and about enjoying the day. In fact, I saw more animals here than at any other zoo. The enclosures are all very big with plenty of plant life. It’s nice that the animals can enjoy being outside all year, as is not the case at cold weather city zoos.

Sleeping tiger at the Phoenix Zoo
Sleeping Cheetah at the Phoenix Zoo
Sleeping cats at the Phoenix Zoo
Sleeping fox at the Phoenix Zoo

Note: During the summer morning hours, most restaurants are closed until later in the day, with the exception of Jungle Java near the entrance. Here you will find Starbucks brewed drinks, breakfast burritos, and sandwiches. In addition, outside coolers and food are allowed. So, if you wish to save a few bucks, bring your own lunch!

Additional add on activities include: Camel rides, a 4D show, stingray bay, a 25 minute narrated tram ride, carousel rides, pedal boat rides, and a giraffe encounter where you get to feed them up close.  Each extra activity can be purchased individually or bought in a package to save money (see pricing below).

Up close view of a lion at the Phoenix Zoo

Tips for a great visit

*Bring with a camelbak (great for hot weather areas) or a reusable water bottle so you can refill up your drink all day without spending unnecessary money on water bottles.

*Expect very hot weather all summer long, even during the morning hours. Stay hydrated, wear light colored clothing, and cool off frequently by standing under the misters. Take your time walking around so you do not overheat. There are not many indoor exhibits (one of the only downsides compared to other zoos) at this zoo. If you need a cool break, walk around the gift shop for a bit.

*Look for discount coupons on sites like Groupon or Living Social.

*Get here as early as possible in the summer to avoid both the heat and crowds.

*Wear gym shoes. The zoo is pretty spread out, so you will do plenty of walking. Plus, it’s more comfortable. I also recommend workout clothes as you will be sweaty and basically working out the entire visit.

*Visit the lions first as they are less likely to be active during the hot portion of the day.

*If you are a frequent zoo visitor (not necessarily just of the Phoenix Zoo as they have a reciprocal agreement with over 160 zoos and aquariums), you might as well purchase a membership. It will pay for itself in just 3 visits. Plus you get an hour early admission (a nice perk during the hot summer season)!

Address & Admission

Location: 455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Ticket Info

General Tickets: $38 for adults, $28 (ages 3-13). Admission is $2 more at the gate, so definitely purchase your tickets online.

Parking is free.

Zoo hours: June 1st-August 31st (7am-2pm), September 1st- November 4th & January 12th-May 31st (9am-5pm), November 5th-January 11th (9am-4pm).