Stroll through a desert wonderland at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Updated April 16, 2021


Boyce Thompson Arboretum, tucked into the foothills of Picketpost Mountain near Superior, AZ is a park like no other. The BTA, as it’s affectionately called by locals, is home to hundreds of species of desert-loving plants from around Arizona and other parts of the world.

Click any image for larger view.




Although plants are the stars of the arboretum, the place is literally crawling with critters, too. Geckos, lizards and snakes seek shelter in the shadows. Colorful birds (including hummingbirds) flutter from trees to flowers to berries, seemingly oblivious to the stream of humans flowing through their home. If you time your visit well, you might even see the resident Bighorn Sheep or Mule Deer surveying the landscape from atop the rocky cliffs.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum highlights:

  • Founded in the 1920s by mining magnate Col. William Boyce Thompson
  • Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden offers over 323 acres to explore
  • 3 miles of well-maintained trails wind through a spectacular desert landscape with the towering Picketpost Mountain as a backdrop
  • Interspersed with tall shade trees, unique rock formations, water features and historic buildings
  • Home to more than 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians including mule deer, javelina, fox, raccoon, skunk, squirrel and rabbits
  • Much of the arboretum is wheelchair accessible

Click any image for larger view.

Video: Walking tour of Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Know before you go:

  • Open daily year-round, except Dec. 25
  • Hours: Oct – April 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; May – Sep 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Admission prices:
    • $15 per person age 13 & over
    • $5 per person age 5 to 12
    • Age 4 and under free
  • Remember to bring: Water, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • Wear good walking shoes, not flip flops or sandals

Historic buildings at Boyce Thompson Arboretum:

Smith Building at Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Smith Building at Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Close up of the bell atop the Smith Building
Colonel Boyce Thompson donated his “Picket Post Mansion” (built in 1923) and the surrounding property to the Arboretum in 1928.
Picket Post Mansion sits on a ridge overlooking Boyce Thompson Arboretum from the property’s eastern edge.

Ready to see it for yourself? Tap the map ↓


  1. As a volunteer for Boyce Thompson Arboretum I have researched the history of the arboretum and I am working on a book (to be the property of the arboretum). I love your pictures and your paragraphs of verbiage, but I want to point out that THE CAPTIONS OF YOUR FIRST TWO PICTURES OF SINGLE BUILDINGS ARE INCORRECT. You do not have a picture of the Gloria Wing Ong Learning Center. You do have a picture of the Smith Building (first photo) and of the bell in the Smith Building (second foto). Beside the third foto you might want to add that Picket Post House was built in 1923 (along with your correct fact that it was deeded to the arboretum in 1928). Keep up the good work! Sylvia Lee

    1. Thank you for correcting me, Sylvia. I will updated the picture captions. I evidently misread the park map I was provided upon entry.

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