“a living museum”
Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest botanical garden in the state of Arizona. It is one of the oldest botanical institutions west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility and “living museum”, the Arboretum is located in the Sonoran Desert on 392 acres 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 west of Superior, Arizona.The Arboretum has a visitors’ center, gift shop, research offices, greenhouses, a demonstration garden, picnic area, and a looping 1.5-mile 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 BTA 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. Currently the Arboretum has 4700 members and attracts over 75,000 people annually.
Two non-hikers and two small dogs tackled the main loop on a beautiful late-February morning. We came in our RV and were able to leave it in one of 4 or 5 available spots. I personally enjoyed the cactus/succulent area as well as the herb garden. I'd love to go again when the roses are in bloom!
The primary trail was really fun!
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Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
- Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
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Good for bird watching, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
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