Trip Planner:   USA  /  Arizona  /  Superior  /  Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

#12 of 142 in Trails in Arizona
Must see · Historic Walking Area · Hiking Trail
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 (158.6 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 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 5,000 members and attracts over 75,000 people annually.
Choose to start, finish, or center your holiday on a trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum by using our Superior day trip app.
Create an itinerary including Boyce Thompson Arboretum
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors

Boyce Thompson Arboretum reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
564 reviews
  • This is a superb park to visit. I love cacti and there was much of it to enjoy here. They pack a lot of it in here with winding trails all over. They have different areas for various desert...  more »
  • What a great place to spend the day! Lots of walking on well marked trails. There's a good amount of shade to be found when you need it. Many of the plants are signed so you know what you're...  more »
  • 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!
  • Build a trip
    Tell us where and when you
    want to go, we will build
    the best sightseeing itinerary
  • Refine it
    You have complete flexibility on your destinations and itinerary
  • Book as a package
    Use our travel agents to get
    package savings and hassle free booking
  • Enjoy your trip!
    Enjoy our 24x7
    on-trip assistance