Boyce Thompson Arboretum - Springtime in the Desert

There's nothing quite like springtime in the desert and no place in Arizona that captures the diversity of all that blooms and awakens this time of year quite like the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Just outside of Superior, this hidden paradise fascinates even the avid desert explorer. You can find it off the Highway 60 near milepost #223. The sights and smells of this Arizona State Park will take your breath away and beckon you back season after season to explore a bit more of this botanical wonderland.

Arizona's 323 Acre Botanical Garden

Encompassing 323 acres, the Arboretum is Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. It features plants native to deserts throughout the world, towering trees, captivating cacti, sheer mountain cliffs, a stream-side forest, and panoramic vistas. There are many natural habitats with varied wildlife, including a desert lake, a hidden canyon, and specialty gardens. 


The Gardens

3,200 different desert plants are encompassed within the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and most can be seen along the main 1.5 mile trail. The Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden is the first specialized floral collection visitors encounter along the main trail.  Other highlights as you meander through the grounds include the Desert Legume Garden, the Cactus Garden, the Wing Memorial Herb Garden, the cool shady Eucalyptus Forest, and a Demonstration Garden among others.  Each unique space encompasses a different feel and fragrance and most are easily accessible, with areas for rest, shade, and contemplation.


What's Blooming?

Visit the Arboretum's FaceBook Page for daily updates on this year's incredible spring bloom.  The season is off to a colorful start. Penstemons, desert marigolds, bird-of-paradise, hedgehog cactus, day flowers, aloes, and a range of desert cactus are just a handful of the recent fragrant blooms exciting the insects and speckling the landscape. From giant to tiny, distinct flowers and tree blossoms are also in full swing. See Yellow Brittlebush, Globemallow, Desert Marigolds, Palo Verde trees, and Ocotillo.

Bird Watching

The Arboretum is designated as an important bird area.  More than 250 species have been recorded in the Birds of the Arboretum Checklist. Gambel's Quail, Canyon Wren, Curve-Billed Thrashers, and Black Throated Sparrows are among the most abundant species, and dozens of other lower-Sonoran birds can typically be found on a productive day's bird walk. The hummingbirds are particularly active in this environment so be sure to bring your binoculars! Pause frequently along your journey to enjoy the sights of all the winged visitors that live and eat in the area.


Guided Nature Walks

Arizona State Park volunteers narrate Arboretum history and point out colorful plants and birds along with seasonal changes. The volunteers know all the best spots for looking for resident birds and where to enjoy sweeping views of the Queen Creek riparian area. These guided walking tours take place all year long.Be sure to check the schedule for upcoming opportunities to enjoy the Arboretum on a guided tour. 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, an Arizona State Park

Information and text for this blog have been pulled from the Arizona State Parks website and from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum website. Thank you to both resources for your outstanding service and contributions to Arizona and our communities.