The Biosphere 2 Center is a great place to visit, especially if you have an interest in our environment. Here you can explore how man's actions affect the world. This center is the western campus of the Columbia University's Earth Institute. The Biosphere's mission is to serve as a center for teaching, learning and research about the Earth and its systems.

The Biosphere 2 Center is located on a 250-acre piece of land in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. The main structure on the property is large and beautiful. It looks like something from the future, with its glass windows surrounding the entire structure. It is the focal point of the grounds. This structure is used for experiments related to our environment. Once you arrive at the Center, you will have some choices to make on how you are going to spend your day. You will definitely want to participate in a tour of the Center. 

Tour presentations are every 60 minutes. The tour includes a mile long trail through the Biosphere 2 Center. Along the trail there are knowledgeable guides to describe what you are seeing and answer questions. During the tour you will see a mini-biosphere, the Test Module and an Underwater Viewing Gallery. The tour concludes at the 3.15 acre Biosphere 2 structure. This structure cost $200 million to build. 

You will also want to take in the exhibits, films and interpreters all of which will help you learn more about the goals and visions of the Biosphere. You will be intellectually stimulated. Another spot you won't want to miss is the setting. Outside the Biosphere you will see the Sonoran Desert in its beauty. If you are a birdwatcher, you will enjoy this area.The Canada Del Oro Restaurant is a great place to sit down and eat a meal. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. From the Canada Del Oro you look out on spectacular views of the Catalina Mountains. Reservations are requested; you can call 520-896-6220 to make your plans.There are three gift shops on the property. Each gift shop is based on a theme. The Desert Digs, the Rainforest and the Coral Reef gift shops have interesting items for you to purchase to remember your visit. 

The Visitor Center is open daily (except on Christmas Day) from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. The last tickets are sold at 5:00 pm. and all exhibits close at 5:30 pm. It is to your advantage, to arrive before 3:00 pm, in order to participate in all the activities. The tour presentations begin every 60 minutes, starting at 9:00 am with the last tour beginning at 4:30 pm. The admission is $12.95 for adults, $8.95 for youth ages 13-17, $6.00 for children 6-12 and children 5 and under are free. Reservations are required for parties over 10. If you would like to schedule a group tour, you can call 1-800-828-2462 for more information.

The Biosphere 2 Center is located between Phoenix and Tucson, near the town of Orcale. If you are coming from Phoenix take Interstate 10 south toward Tucson, just as you are about to enter Tucson (about 20 miles north of it) take the Tangerine Road exit. Turn left onto Tangerine Road and travel 15 miles east to North Oracle Road. Turn left onto North Oracle Road/State Highway 77 and head north. When you arrive at Oracle Junction take the right fork and continue on State Highway 77 up to the Biosphere turnoff  (approximately 6 miles). 

If you are coming from Tucson, you will take Interstate 10 north toward Phoenix. Exit the Interstate at the Ina Road exit. Turn right onto Ina Road and travel east to North Oracle Road. Turn left onto North Oracle Road/State Highway 77 and continue to Oracle Junction. Take the right fork and continue on State Highway 77 up to the Biosphere turnoff (approximately 6 miles).

There are some things you should keep in mind if you are planning to make a visit to the Biosphere Center 2. The first thing is to remember to wear walking shoes and a hat. These items will make your tour most comfortable. Wheelchairs and strollers are available for rent, on a first come, first serve basis. No pets or picnicking are allowed on the premises.

I know you will enjoy your visit to the Biosphere 2 Center. If you really want to spend more time at the Center, there is a hotel on the property. You will want to look into special rates including the room and tour. You can call 1-800-828-2462 or 520-896-6200 to find out more. It is a great place to learn more about our world.