Boyce Thompson Arboretum

For the last two and a half years I have been publishing a blog post every two weeks, give or take a day. Two weeks after my last post about a dish towel weaving project, I did not have any posts remotely ready. I have a bunch of rough drafts going, but none of them were complete or right for publication. I was a bit distressed, but concluded it did not matter.

The weather here in Gold Canyon, AZ, has not been the greatest with cooler than normal temperatures and more rain the usual, and some very windy days where you have to put your portable chairs away or you might find them a block away. It is still a lot better than Minnesota so I am not complaining. On one of the nicer days I went on an outing with my sister-in-law and her husband to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. This is an amazing place about 20 miles east of Gold Canyon, near Superior, far away from any developed areas of the Phoenix Metro.

I had been there the week before that too, when my other sister-in-law and her husband were visiting. I took many photos on that visit, so this time when we got there I figured I would not take any more photos. However as soon as we started walking around I saw pops of color that were not there or I did not notice the week before that needed to have their photo taken, different from anything at home in the Midwest. I realized that here was my next blog post.

Mr. Boyce Thompson owned a copper mine near Superior in the early 1900’s. He built a home on land near the mine, and started the arboretum in 1924. You can see the house high on a bluff from the walking trail, but it is not accessible or open to the public.

Mr. Boyce Thompson’s house

Also along the trail is a poster with some history about Mr. Thompson and the arboretum. He was interested in plants and helping to solve world food problems, and he felt bad about the damage caused to the local area from mining, timbering and overgrazing (after he apparently made lots of money from the mine).

There is nice gift shop at the arboretum with the usual southwest tourist apparel, prickly pear cactus products, books, etc, and also plants for sale. I thought a cactus for sale that drooped way over was funny.

Cactus plants for sale at the gift shop
More small plants for sale at the gift shop

The arboretum offers yoga and other wellness classes, as well as classes on master gardening, watercolor painting and photography.

There is a small greenhouse, followed by walking paths featuring labeled desert plants. The landscaped area then turns into an easy hike with beautiful scenery. You can do a guided tour or walk around on your own.

Following are photos I took of plants I found especially interesting or different or colorful, plus a few points of interest along the one and a half mile loop trail. The photos are not necessarily in the order in which you would find them on your walk through the arboretum. I don’t remember what all the plants are called. Enjoy the variety nature has to offer as you scroll through my pictures.

This is called Old Man Cactus LOL
This plant looks like Rhubarb, but it isn’t

Prickly Pear Cactus

Part of a very big Eucalyptus tree

There are areas of the arboretum with plants and displays from all the major desert areas around the world. The next two photos are from a recreation of an Australian wool drovers shed.

Australian Wool Drover’s Shed
Sculpture at the Wool Drover’s Shed
A family of five lived in this two bedroom cabin before Boyce Thompson owned the land
A cool horse sculpture
Who spray painted these rocks blue? No one, they are Azurite-Malachite

Following are a few photos of the hiking trail that loops back around to the landscaped area.

On the walking trail with my husband, brother-in-law, and nephew
My sister-in-law, niece, and daughter
Sisters-in-law, daughter, and nieces

If you are ever in the area, this is an excellent outing that includes some history, learning about desert plants, beautiful vistas, and an easy hike. We will be going again soon when our son and daughter-in-law visit next week.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

10 thoughts on “Boyce Thompson Arboretum

  1. Thanks for the caucus tour
    We are still in California but going to Arizona soon!
    Julie’s daughter Rylee just had a baby girl. Julie’s first grandchild!
    Need to see everyone in Tucson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This does look like a wonderful place! Thank you for the tour through the arboretum. The landscape is so different from the Midwest. When we visited my son in Dallas, I did take some pictures of cacti which are similar to a few of the ones you took. I would definitely enjoy visiting this place – as long as it wasn’t too hot. Enjoy your next visit there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a problem with too hot also, so I would never even be in Arizona during the summer! We noticed a campground that is open from something like October to April. At first we thought it was backwords, but we realized it is just too hot in the summer. There is another botanical garden in Phoenix that is also very good, but there is something special about Boyce Thompson.

      Liked by 1 person

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