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Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

4.8
#14 of 144 in Historic Sites in Arizona
Must see · Historic Walking Area · Hiking Trail
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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
TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
566 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Nice place to spend two three hours woman at the front window she was very nice told us after 40 years it changed a lot but we can't recall it. 
    Nice place to spend two three hours woman at the front window she was very nice told us after 40 years it changed a lot but we can't recall it.  more »
  • A hidden treasure! 15 years of traveling to AZ and I just found this???? Wonderful, clean, incredible beauty!!!! Little bit of walking so bring water. We did not! And my fiancé got light headed... 
    A hidden treasure! 15 years of traveling to AZ and I just found this???? Wonderful, clean, incredible beauty!!!! Little bit of walking so bring water. We did not! And my fiancé got light headed...  more »
Google
  • Nice getaway from the city. Definitely give yourself at least a couple of hours to stroll through here. Enjoy seeing the plants and trees from different regions. They do have guided tours that one day I will take. It's a good, easy hike. You should go!
  • This is an excellent place to view exotic desert plants and occasional wildlife. There are plenty of shaded areas and a few water features. The early developer, Boyce Thompson, home on top of the cliff and above the lake is a wonderful sight. The earlier settlers homestead and herb garden was also interesting. There a very nice gift shop with desert and garden plants for sale. Bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. The drive from Phoenix is easy and very scenic - Enjoy!

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