Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

4.9
#19 of 97 in Wildlife in Arizona
Boyce Thompson Arboretum is Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. Cooperatively managed by the non-profit 501(3)(c) Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum, Inc., the University of Arizona, and Arizona State Parks, this venerable 392-acre "Arizona oasis" has nearly three miles of paths and trails winding through colorful gardens, woodlands and along native riparian habitat. Founded in 1924 and dedicated to instilling in people an appreciation for desert plants, the Arboretum is about 45 minutes' drive due east of Mesa, near highway 60 milepost #223 as you approach the historic copper-mining town of Superior.

Plants from arid land regions around the world thrive alongside native Sonoran Desert plants. Short trails lead through Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert areas, a cactus garden, riparian areas, an Australian forest, and herb and rose gardens.

Maps and handouts offer information on the other trails and gardens. Most of these branch off from the first part of the Main Trail, so you don't have to walk far to see the highlights. Much of the trail system is wheelchair-accessible.

The Curandero/Sonoran Desert Trail describes traditional herbal medicines of the Sonoran Desert. (Curanderos are traditional healers in Mexican culture.)

Display greenhouses contain cactus and succulents that might not otherwise survive winter cold at this 2,400-foot elevation.

The Smith Interpretive Center, between the display greenhouses, has exhibits on plants and local history. A Demonstration Garden offers tips and living examples of water-efficient landscaping design.

More than 270 bird, and 72 terrestrial species have been seen in the area.

Ayer Lake and Queen Creek on the Main Trail are good places to watch for wildlife. Look around the edge of the lake to a chance to see endangered Gila topminnows and desert pupfish.

Nearby Picketpost Mountain (elevation 4,400 ft.) towers above the gardens and its massive presence dominates the view to the south of the Arboretum.

Developed trails such as the Arizona Trail and the trail to the summit of Picketpost mountain can be accessed from Highway 60 west of the Arboretum. There is no direct access from the Arboretum to other trails that exist outside of the grounds.
Choose to start, finish, or center your holiday on a trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum by using our Superior day trip app .
Source
Create an itinerary including Boyce Thompson Arboretum
map
Boyce Thompson Arboretum Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
412 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • I never realized there were this many varieties of cactus. We did the walking tour and found it very interesting and scenic.  more »
  • Lovely, expansive gardens. Had a great tree tour with Migel. Plant sale was fantastic. I found some really unusual plants to bring home.  more »
  • We learned a good bit during our visit. I felt the $25 admission was a bit steep for two people but can understand how their operating cost have to be really high here. Was disappointed that the resid...  more »

Plan your trip to Superior

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Superior

Browse hotels, guesthouses, and unique homes and book your stay on the world's leading accommodation sites.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor

Plans in Superior by other users

16 days in Los Angeles, Arizona & Las Vegas BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, wildlife, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: December, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 1 day in Superior BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: December, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 31 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM CANADA March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 21 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, wildlife, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: December, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 29 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM CANADA January, popular PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Sedona & Superior BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, relaxing, wildlife, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: November, relaxing, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 22 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM POLAND October, outdoors, historic sites, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: October, outdoors, historic sites, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 39 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, popular PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 13 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM CANADA February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in Arizona BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, popular PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans