Fall Hours are in Effect:
The park is open daily from 8am. to 5pm., with the day's final admission at 4pm., one hour before closing time so the last-admitted guests of the day have a full hour to explore the gardens and trails.
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A variety of plants from the world's deserts await you at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is the place to discover the intricate beauty and many faces of Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. Featured are plants from the world's deserts, towering trees, captivating cacti, sheer mountain cliffs, a streamside forest, panoramic vistas, many natural habitats with varied wildlife, a desert lake, a hidden canyon, specialty gardens and more.
The Arboretum was founded in the 1920s by mining magnate Col. William Boyce Thompson. In 1917 Col. Thompson served as co-leader of a Red Cross mercy mission to Russia, where he came to understand the importance of plants as the ultimate source of a large portion of mankind's food, clothing, and shelter. It was then, that he determined to use his great wealth to improve the use of plant resources. The Arboretum is one of his legacies.
Encompassing 323 acres, the Arboretum is Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. It was the first purely botanical institution in the inter-mountain states. The Arizona State Parks Board entered into agreement with the Boyce Thompson Arboretum Board and the University of Arizona in 1976 to cooperatively manage the Arboretum.
The University of Arizona also maintains a website for this park, with additional park information and photos. Learn more.
Download April – May Events Calendar ( 105 KB PDF)
May 7: Dragonfly Walks with Justin Jones & Roger Racut (also June 4 & July 2)
8:30am. Dragonfly enthusiasts Justin Jones and Roger Racut guide our once-a-month odonate excursion -- an interpreted walking tour to Ayer Lake and garden water features -- a chance to learn about these beautiful, fascinating insect predators. Bring your camera because Pierre safely nets a few dragonflies for visitors to view and photograph close-up, before releasing the insects unharmed. Check out colorful photos and read more about Flame Skimmers, Blue Dashers and Mexican Amberwings at this excellent website launched by ASU Professor Pierre Deviche: http://azdragonfly.net
May 7: Main Trail Guided Walk
9am. Can you name the oldest tree or oldest plant in Arizona? How old is a five foot Saguaro...and can you identify a few edible desert plants? Hear the answers and learn about the Arboretum's history and mission on a relaxed, leisurely guided walking tour of the main trail. Tours depart from the visitor center at 9am. and are included with daily admission $10 -- free to BTA annual members, and also free if you have an Arizona State Parks pass. Our Summer schedule returns May 1 and hours will be 6am. to 3pm. daily through September 30; general tours of the main trail with Jim Shepherd will be at 9am. on Saturdays May 7 and 21.
May 7: Girl Scout Badge Workshop (more Girl Scout workshops May 14 and 28)
9am. $10 per scout, $10 per adult chaperone - call (520) 689-2723 to pre-register and prepay. Girl Scout badge workshops continue with the ‘Senses’ activity for Brownies May 7, then ‘Wood Worker’ for Cadettes May 14 and the 'Arizona' patch for Brownies May 21. Read more http://cals.arizona.edu/bta
May 8: Mother’s Day Camera Classes: Camera Basics #1 and #2
Looking for a truly thoughtful, unique gift for mother’s day? Enroll mom (or your wife, aunt, daughter or sister) in either of two camera classes that will be offered by popular instructor Lisa Langell. Abbreviated descriptions are below; enroll online and read more complete class itineraries at
Camera Basics I: a 3-hour class in manual exposure settings such as aperture, shutter speed & ISO. Lisa employs a warm, friendly, supportive approach during an indoor class that introduces you to the most basic three settings that help control exceptional photography. Learn these settings and artistic effects they can create such as depth-of-field, ‘bokeh,’ motion-blur, stopping action & more. Most time will be spent in the lecture room, but class will end with a short in-the-field exercise to strengthen and apply your skills – before the morning heats up too much.
Beyond Camera Basics II: from 1-4pm. Building on the skills learned in level 1 (see above), this class covers proper use of ISO and manual settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO combined). Learn to take complete control of your camera and photography from an artistic perspective. Class begins with lecture room indoor time and ends with in-the-garden exercises to strengthen and apply your skills. Enrollees should have completed Lisa’s ‘Camera Basics #1’ or a comparable class prior to this – or be confident as intermediate photographers who know the basics covered in her AM class listed above. Enroll online via Lisa’s website
May 14: Learn Your Lizards Guided Walks with 'Wild Man Phil' Rakoci
8am. This entertaining guided tour around the gardens is not just for kids -- our popular Lizard Walks are for all who enjoy Arizona's most common, colorful and charismatic little reptiles. Casa Grande outdoor educator 'Wild Man Phil' Rakociis our special guest tourguide. Daily hours move to the summer schedule May 1; during May we're open 6am. to 3pm. Connect with Wild Man Phil on Facebook
Walks continue July 9 with Arizona Game & Fish Department reptile researcher Dan Leavitt and Tucson author Larry Jones ("Lizards of the American Southwest"). Our walks on August 13 and also September 10 feature Arizona Audubon naturalist Steven Prager, Dan Leavitt & Jamie Wisenall. There's no additional fee to attend Lizard walks and other nature tours here, and no pre-registration necessary, just be in our Visitor Center breezeway at start time. See photos and read more http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/events/lizardwalk.html. Arrive early and explore - during Summer months from May-through-September BTA opens at 6am.
May 15: Tree Tour
8am. So, just what is an Arboretum? BTA staffer and Certified Arborist Jeff Payne leads this walk where visitors learn the answer to that often-posed question during a relaxed and leisurely guided tour through the forested areas of the Arboretum. Join Jeff for a chance to learn about the Arboretum's collection of oak and olive trees, native hackberry, mesquite and many more.
May 21: Plants of the Bible Land Guided Walk
8am. The Sinai Desert lies roughly at the same latitude as our own Sonoran Desert; many of the same plants common in the Middle East thrive in our Arizona climate, and can be seen here at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Arboretum volunteer tourguide Dave Oberpriller leads this tour to learn about palms, pomegranates, figs, olives, and other plants of the Bible Land. Wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, bring sunscreen and water bottle. The tour, conducted at a leisurely pace, lasts about 90 minutes and proceeds along wheelchair-accessible paths. Check out a few Plants of the Bible Lands on Facebook. Using references in ancient texts, guides will describe how people of the Bible Land used plants as food, medicine, and shelter in ways similar to how native peoples of Southern Arizona continue to do so in modern times.
May 22: Edible - Medicinal Desert Plants Walk Guided By David Morris
8am. Explore our Curandero Trail on a one-hour walk guided by Choctaw Nation member and ethno-botanist David Morris on May 22 and also June 26. learn about prickly pear cacti, ratany, agaves, jojobas -- and the ways native plants have fed, healed and clothed Sonoran desert peoples for more than one thousand years. Daily hours move to the summer scheduled of 6am-3pm from May-through-September, and this tour moves to an 8:00 am start time May 22 and June 26. ** Please note: this guided tour explores the Curandero Trail, which has steep sections that are not suitable for visitors who use wheelchairs or walkers.
May 22: LightRoom 5 Users Group
9am. Smith Building Lecture Room. Photographers and digital photo editing enthusiasts coordinate our once-a-month meeting of the LightRoom5 users group. These informal workshops are open to the public, free to BTA annual members and included with $10 daily admission if you're not among annual members.
May 28: Guided Butterfly Walk with ASU Professor Marceline VandeWater (next is June 25)
9am. Marceline VandeWater guides visitors to see, photograph and learn about colorful species ranging from Empress Leilia to Queen, Spring Azure and more. This relaxed and slow-moving walk that explores our Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden, Demonstration Garden and Children's Garden collections. ASU Professor Ron Rutowski and Laura Miller team-up again to guide the walk at 8:30am. June 25. Start time remains 8:30am. July 23 with Marceline VandeWater as guide, and also 8:30am. on August 27 with Adriane Grimaldi ; she's also our guide September 24 when the start time moves to 9am.
May 28: Geology walking tour with Rich Leveille
1:30pm. Learn about rocks and volcanic formations along our main trail on a guided tour with professional geologist Rich Leveille on May 28 starting at 8am. This tour compresses almost two billion years of geologic history into just over one educational hour! Learn about Pinal schist, the volcanic origins of Picket Post Mountain and the Apache Leap tuff. June 25 our guide is Scott McFadden, then July 23 Rich Leville returns.
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge