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Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

4.9
#28 of 163 in Wildlife in Arizona
Must see · Garden · Wildlife Area
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Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the oldest and largest botanical garden in the state of Arizona. It is one of the oldest botanical institutions west of the Mississippi River. Founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility and “living museum”, the arboretum is located in the Sonoran Desert on 392 acres (159 ha) along Queen Creek and beneath the towering volcanic remnant, Picketpost Mountain. Boyce Thompson Arboretum is on U.S. Highway 60, an hour's drive east from Phoenix and 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Superior, Arizona.

The arboretum has a visitor center, gift shop, research offices, greenhouses, a demonstration garden, picnic area, and a looping 1.5-mile (2.4 km) primary trail that leads visitors through various exhibits and natural areas. The exhibits include a cactus garden, palm and eucalyptus groves, an Australian exhibit, South American exhibit, aloe garden and an herb garden. There are also side trails such as the Chihuahuan Trail, Curandero Trail, and High Trail.

Over 2600 species of arid land plants from around the world grow at the arboretum. Agaves, aloes, boojum trees, cork oaks, jujube trees, legume trees, and, in the eucalyptus grove, one of the largest red gum eucalyptus trees ("Mr. Big") in the United States. Cacti and succulents grow extensively throughout the arboretum.

Because the arboretum is a riparian zone, the park attracts Sonoran Desert wildlife and migrating birds. Visitors have seen bobcats, javelinas, coatimundis, rattlesnakes, gila monsters, hawks, hummingbirds, and vultures. 270 bird species have been spotted in the park and the Audubon Society has designated the arboretum as an Important Bird Area.

As of 2014 the arboretum had 5,000 members and attracted over 75,000 people annually.
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Boyce Thompson Arboretum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
581 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • Such a beautiful place with views of the surrounding mountains and so many plants from around the world (labeled so you know what they are). Easy and moderate hiking trails allow everyone to enjoy it. 
    Such a beautiful place with views of the surrounding mountains and so many plants from around the world (labeled so you know what they are). Easy and moderate hiking trails allow everyone to enjoy it.  more »
  • Nice place to hike around relatively flat and very popular on the weekend. We used the Culture Pass from the library for free entry. We saw a javelina on one of the trails. You can also purchase some....  more
    Nice place to hike around relatively flat and very popular on the weekend. We used the Culture Pass from the library for free entry. We saw a javelina on one of the trails. You can also purchase some....  more »
  • Brought our 13, 11, and 9 year old kids to the arboretum to get outside and enjoy the beautiful winter weather. There are several walking/hiking trails (leashed dogs are welcome!) all around the... 
    Brought our 13, 11, and 9 year old kids to the arboretum to get outside and enjoy the beautiful winter weather. There are several walking/hiking trails (leashed dogs are welcome!) all around the...  more »
Google
  • Absolutely love this place. The staff is extremely kind and helpful and work hard to keep all of the beautiful nature on display for the public. There's so many great sights to see between the trails leading into the more rocky/mountainous area, the lake, and the numerous gardens. There's some interesting history in this place to go along with the huge variety of plants and trees displayed. Definitely go early in the morning around summer time to avoid the heat and a water bottle is a must. If you haven't been here before and enjoy the Arizona wilderness make sure to take a day to enjoy all that the Boyce Thompson Arboretum has to offer.
  • Beautiful place. More of a wild botanical garden. Dogs are welcome. It’s not paved so I would suggest tennis shoes, lots of dirt. We stayed about 1.5 hours but didn’t even see everything! Take water, it’s hot, big and no water or food to buy. They do have a little gift shop. And tons of plants for sale. $15 per adult.
  • Such a great time!!!! A little chilly if you go early, however the morning lighting is so beautiful. Pack a lunch and stay the day. With all that Arizona has to offer, this is one of the places that should be on the top of your list. When your day is done, it’s a short drive up to Superior where surprisingly there are several restraints that are amazing! Easy Dray trip from Anywhere in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
  • Great spot for some light hiking. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. Each area is marked well and easy to explore. It is worth stopping at if passing by or to make a day trip out of. We purchased the annual pass and have gone a few times and have taken visitors. I would go more often if it was closer.
  • We had a wonderful time at the arboretum today. All the blooms are beautiful and the hikes are fun. The trails are nicely kept with signs to let you know the names of the plants. Staff are always friendly and helpful. Try the prickly pear taffy, so yummy! The gift shop has lots of fun things to buy including cactus plants. Might have to get a yearly membership here!

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