Giant Tortoises

Murtle the Turtle, Joshua Tree, California


Murtle is claimed to be a turtle -- but probably just because it rhymes. This giant roadside sculpture more closely resembles the desert tortoises that inhabit the area.
Directions: On the south side of 29 Palms Highway (Highway 62), 1/2 block west of Sunset Road.
Last Visited: March 2009.
Two plaques on the site give clues to the origins of Murtle and her name

[Rotary International logo]
This island is dedicated in memory of
known as
for many years of loyal and faithful service to youth
1-1-29 TO 10-30-92

Donated to the community
by Howard Pierce

San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California


This statue of a Galápagos giant tortoise may be life-sized, but technically it is still a giant tortoise statue!
Directions: 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park (admission fee is charged).
Last Visited: April 1985.

George the Tortoise, Fountain Hills, Arizona


Artist: Randy Hand.
Directions: At the entrance of the playground at Fountain Park, El Lago Blvd. east of Saguaro Blvd.
Last Visited: June 2009.

Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School, Chandler, Arizona


A painted rock in front of a trimmed bush, and voilà -- a giant tortoise!
Directions: Lakeshore Dr. just west of Juniper St.
Last Visited: December 2009.

Heritage Park Zoo, Prescott, Arizona


Directions: 1403 Heritage Park Road (admission fee is charged).
Last Visited: May 2006.

Sahuarita Lake Park, Sahuarita, Arizona


Directions: 15466 S Rancho Sahuarita Blvd.
Last Visited: April 2016.

Meet Hardshell, Flash and Mr. Turtle, our giant desert tortoises. In nature, these turtles can weigh up to 15 pounds and measure 15 inches from head to tail. They can live where temperatures exceed 140 degrees F by digging underground burrows to escape the heat. They are dormant in the cold months of November through March.
Desert tortoises are herbivores that eat prickly pear cactus, fruit, leaves and grasses and store water so they can survive long, dry seasons. They can be found in Arizona, from the Mojave and Sonoran Desert to the juniper woodland. The desert tortoise is a threatened species protected by state and federal wildlife programs and we are happy to have our tortoise friends living at Sahuarita Lake Park.
- Dedicated to the children of Sahuarita by Rancho Sahuarita

Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona


Directions: 625 N. Galvin Pkwy, in a picnic area between the Phoenix Zoo and Hole in the Rock.
Last Visited: May 2015.

Boron, California


A family of concrete desert tortoises.
Directions: 27180 Twenty Mule Team Rd, in the parking area directly across the road from the Barrell restaurant.
Last Visited: March 2013.

Poki, Bullhead City, Arizona


Poki is advertised as the "World's Largest Desert Tortoise."
Directions: 1251 AZ-95, on the west side of the highway in front of the Bullhead Chamber of Commerce.
Last Visited: October 2018.

Overgaard, Arizona


This trio of tortoises is in front of MJ Utah Connection Aluminum Statue.
Directions: 2824 AZ-260.
Last Visited: July 2019.

Twentynine Palms, California


This is one of two giant metal tortoises that guard the entrances to Tortoise Rock Casino.
Directions: 73829 Baseline Rd.
Last Visited: March 2020.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, Arizona


This tortoise bench can be found on one of the trails in the arboretum.
Directions: 37615 E. Arboretum Way (arboretum admission fee required).
Last Visited: April 2018.

Michael A. Perry Memorial, Tucson, Arizona


This large-but-not-giant baseball-playing tortoise can be found at the entrance to Michael Perry Park.
Directions: Southeast corner of Golf Links Rd and Pantano Pkwy.
Last Visited: March 2014.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California


This giant tortoise shell can be found in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor center. The accompanying display says "This is a replica of a fossil from our collection. About two and a half million years ago, this Giant Tortoise (Hesperotestudo sp.) roamed the savanna that was to become the Vallecito/Fish Creek Badlands."
Directions: 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs.
Last Visited: March 2017.

San Francisco, California


I found this inquisitive metal tortoise on the sidewalk in front of a shop in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Directions: Michael Fine Art & Antiques, 400 Grant Ave (east side of Grant Ave just north of Bush St).
Last Visited: March 2018.

Desert Tower, Jacumba Hot Springs, California


This tortoise is one of many animals carved out of the granite of Boulder Park.
Directions: In-Ko-Pah Park Rd via I-8 exit 77. Open 9-5 daily (admission fee required to enter Desert Tower and Boulder Park).
Last Visited: October 2019.

Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, Nevada


I encountered this tortoise in the courtyard behind the Springs Preserve's Origen Museum.
Directions: 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Open 9-5 daily (admission fee required to enter the preserve).
Last Visited: February 2020.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas, Nevada


This metal tortoise can be found among the displays in the courtyard behind the visitor center.
Directions: 1000 Scenic Loop Dr. Open 6-8 daily.
Last Visited: October 2018.

Standard disclaimer: Sites are described for entertainment purposes only, as they were at the time of my last visit. I can not vouch for the current condition of the site or its accessibility.

Revised: August 10, 2020
Copyright © 2009-2020 Joe Orman (except for plaques text)
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