Perhaps you have glanced the name Boyce Thompson on the internet while researching your Arizona trip. Or you have friends who have visited and you have yet to make it out there. Either way, this unique garden will have caught your eye both for its exceptional aesthetic and rave reviews. But it is far from all the big Arizona cities. Phoenix proper is about an hour away and Tucson is even further. So, is Boyce Thompson Arboretum worth visiting when the Desert Botanical Garden is closer? Is it worth the drive is explore a spot that’s not quite so famous?
My immediate answer is yes! If you have an appreciation for plants, and the weather cooperates for you, there is no question that you should try to give this spot some of your time. Not only is Boyce home to an exceptional collection of desert plants from around the world, but it is nestled in a landscape you won’t see anywhere else. It also has extensive hiking trails for the adventurous among you. And the Arboretum is perfect for people traveling with small kids or just looking for a more relaxed experience. With its historic buildings, stone mazes, and verdant main grounds, this place will open your eyes even before you buy your ticket.
Learn more about visiting Boyce Thompson Arboretum in this short guide to Central Arizona’s secret, garden paradise.
Is Boyce Thompson Arboretum Worth Visiting?
I know that I already said yes above, but if you are still on the fence about making the drive, I want to give you a list of reasons that you should try to take this day trip from Phoenix, AZ if you can.
- There is no other garden in the world like this one. The Desert Botanical Garden might have a similar collection of desert plants from around the world. And there might be other gardens with hiking trails. But nowhere else has the grounds and views that Boyce does. At the foot of the towering Picketpost Mountain, the Arboretum trails weave their way through rock formations that are alive with Sonoran Desert flora and fauna. All the while, historic buildings look down on visitors from cliffside perches, or peek out from shallow caves.
- No matter what kind of group you are traveling with, Boyce will make everyone but an ardent outdoor hater happy. The kids will have fun exploring historic buildings, rope bridges, and rock mazes. (Let’s be honest, so will the adults). Hikers can spend hours out on the trails. Photographers can play with both close-up images and landscape captures. Folks who can’t walk far can enjoy the immediate beauty of the garden. And solo travelers can comfortably take it all in at their own pace.
- Visiting Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a great way to introduce yourself to the Sonoran Desert. Yes, they have plants from all around the world. But they also showcase Arizona plants and in the most exceptional way imaginable. You can see the Sonoran Desert in its full glory here. And besides connecting with the ecology of Arizona, there is a lot of history to be uncovered in this garden as well.