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Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

4.9
#12 of 144 in Trails in Arizona
Must see · Historic Walking Area · Garden
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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 5.0
578 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • Wow, what a nice garden with many trails through well kept desert plant collections. Plan to spend several hours, preferably a half a day to see the plants and property. The garden is in a beautiful.....  more
    Wow, what a nice garden with many trails through well kept desert plant collections. Plan to spend several hours, preferably a half a day to see the plants and property. The garden is in a beautiful.....  more »
  • I wasn't expecting a place like this so close to Phoenix. Big trees, bridges crossing a meandering creek, so many types of cactus and succulents, flowers, big rocks, a rose garden, a lake... 
    I wasn't expecting a place like this so close to Phoenix. Big trees, bridges crossing a meandering creek, so many types of cactus and succulents, flowers, big rocks, a rose garden, a lake...  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.

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