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Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

Categories: State Parks, Gardens, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.8/5 based on 320+ reviews on the web
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.
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  • Well marked trails providing good and easy access to diverse habitats and a small canyon. There is plenty of shade, and benches, for when the sun becomes too much. There are a variety of trails but we...  read more »
  • My wife and I traveled the Apache Trail and stopped at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It had more than what I expected and was excited with the way it was laid out and the walking trails. The small fee to ...  read more »
  • This is a wonderful state park that is not to far from Phoenix. It is a very easy walk through the park with enough detours on the trail to make it super easy or slightly more challenging for elderly ...  read more »
  • Pretty cool gardens. Personally I think it has a nicer feel than the Phoenix botanical gardens as it is usually less busy and has more of a compact feel while still having a lot of plants to see. Also has a lot of plants on sale usually which generally include varieties that aren't as common elsewhere. Plus they are dog friendly and have some water stations with dog bowls offered. Plus they have classes (albeit some are limited only to members but the membership fees are reasonable)
  • Love it here. Visit a couple times each year. Always bring out-of-state guests (everyone has loved it), and try to make the plant sale.
  • Great place with beautiful scenery. It is far so be prepared for the trip but I would sat it's worth it. Also, great customer service!
  • This is a wonderful place to spend the day. Fabulous plants to see and many available to take home. I wish they would list the types of plants available for sale so you can research the ones that will thrive in your home envvironment. I am looking forward to my next visit.
  • My wife and I went there in the Fall of 2011 and it is absolutely beautiful with the trees changing colors, nice breeze etc...They also have music there from time to time and people selling arts and crafts. Just a really beautiful place to visit.
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Visit for 3​h
Visit for 1​h 30​m