The Biosphere 2 is an amazing complex of buildings at the base of the Catalina mountains. There is a visitor center, apartments for scientists working at the site, and the central building, which is the primary site of interest. This massive, glass structure contains a living area, and chambers for different types of biomes. On the tour provided by the facility, one will get to experience most of the different biomes, and see some behind the scenes aspects of the Biosphere 2.
When I was in high school, I went to Biosphere 2 to get ideas for a big project in which a group and I was supposed to come up with a design for a Mars colony. Biosphere 2 became the foundation for our project. It not only showed us the basis for our colony design, but it illustrated what problems were faced by the project and thus got us thinking of innovative ways to solve those problems. Furthermore, it gave us the foundation for our own details, imaginings, and further research. It was a fascinating place and it caught all of our imaginations.
Biosphere 2 was built in 1991, to see if man could build a contained environment which they could live in, without the aid of the outside world. It was bringing the dream of seeing new worlds to Earth, taking the first steps towards a future in which humans could expand onto new planets and new frontiers; and to this day it is still a picture of science fiction brought to life. Biosphere 2 did something incredible at that time- it showed us that we had no idea what we were doing. Not enough oxygen, not enough food… they couldn’t do what they sent out to do, and for some this was a disappointment and a failure. This stance, however, is based on a misunderstanding of the scientific method. No scientist always gets the results that they want, but an experiment is not a failure if something new can be learned. Biosphere 2 taught us a lot of things, and still is! It is an amazing place. In fact, the University of Arizona is currently using Biosphere 2 to do research on global warming, and I can think of few places better suited.
I highly suggest checking this place out, whether you are just a visitor to Arizona or a long-time resident. Tours of the facility cover the history of this unique place, some of the technology that made it possible, as well as the different biomes that are studied in the confines of the building. In particular, I think that this is a great place for kids. General admission (with tour) for adults is $20, and children 6-12 are $13. There are some discounts for military and students as well- all the details are on Biosphere 2’s website, as are details for how to get there (depending on where you are coming from).
Link: Biosphere 2