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Intro to Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is an Arizona State Park located southeast of Phoenix, near Superior, Arizona. It is Arizona's largest and oldest botanical garden, dating back to the 1920s. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum became affiliated with the University of Arizona and the Arizona State Park system in 1976.
See a video about my visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum!Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Park Rules, Park Tips
The park rules at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum are pretty easy to understand and make perfect sense.
- Stay on the trails.
- You can bring a pet, but it must be on a leash that's no more than 6 feet long.
- Clean up after your pet.
- Control your children.
- No smoking, except in designated areas. The trails are not designated areas.
- Don't pick anything or take anything.
- Don't damage or harm anything.
Continue to 3 of 10 below.
- Don't litter.
- Carry water. If you didn't bring any, you can purchase some at a very reasonable cost in the gift shop at the entrance.
- There's a nominal charge for a trail map. You don't really need one, since there are maps posted along the way, but the trail map sold at the gift shop has additional information about the exhibits and trails.
- The Main Trail is about 1.5 miles, some of it not necessarily for those that have unsure footing.
- Not all of the trails are totally handicapped accessible.
- Wear comfortable... walking or running shoes.
- Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses.
- As the season starts to warm up it will be hot out there in the desert -- 85°F will feel awfully warm. There are various shady places to stop and take a break. On warm days, get to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum as early as possible.
- Don't forget your camera!
- When wildflowers are in bloom, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is even more beautiful. April is probably the peak month for wildflowers when there has been enough winter rain.
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Guided Tours at Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Guided tours are free with your admission to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Tours are led by volunteer guides, who interpret the plants, animals and natural history of the Arboretum. There are also many special events throughout the year. Lizards, birds, dragonflies, butterflies--each season brings a new reason for a guided tour!
Education is a very high priority at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. School groups, including homeschoolers, may arrange for guided tours at significantly reduced admission prices.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Boyce Thompson Arboretum Cactus Garden
The Cactus Garden at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is one of my favorite places! Walk the winding paths of the three acre Cactus Garden to discover how diverse and colorful desert cactus plants really are.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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What Are You Looking At?
You will generally be able to tell what kind of plant or tree you are seeing at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, since many of the plants have signs indicating the name of the plant and the origin.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Chihuahua Trail at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum
The Cactus Garden may be my favorite garden spot, but the Chihuahua Trail is my favorite trail to wander when I've finished walking the Main Trail at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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The Herb Garden
Use your sense of smell as you walk around Boyce Thompson Arboretum's Herb Garden to guess which herbs are which. You'll find herbs for cooking, medicine, cosmetics, and more. Signs will explain what they all are!
Before you head to the Demonstration Garden, Picnic Area, Store, and exit, make sure you've visited the other areas of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, like the Heritage Rose Garden, Ayer Lake, the Eucalyptus Forest, and the Magma Ridge Riparian Area.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Demonstration Garden at Boyce Thompson Arboretum
I usually make the Demonstration Garden my last stop on a visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The Demonstration Garden is less natural, but very colorful. It's purpose is to give gardeners ideas about how to use desert plants at their own homes, including basic landscape design, water use, and plant selection.
Before you leave the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, stop and check on the various desert plants that are for sale here.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Bring a Picnic Basket
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum offers a picnic area, where you can bring your own snacks, relax, let the kids expend some energy, and get a bit of shade on a hot, sunny day.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Location, Hours, Admission
The actual address of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is:
37615 East Highway 60
Superior, AZ 85273
Call for information: 520-689-2723
The park is open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May through August, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. September through April. Make sure you arrive at least one hour before closing. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.
The fee for admission (Jan. 2014) is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 5 to 12; children under age five are admitted free.
It's a long drive out to Superior for most people in the Phoenix area, so call first or visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum online to verify hours and days they are open.
If you intend to see everything and walk everywhere, your visit will take several hours. If you are just going to hit the Main Trail, and a few of the gardens directly off the Main Trail, you'll still need about two hours for your visit. See a video about my visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum!
All dates, times, prices and offerings... are subject to change without notice.