Guidelines for a Pleasant Visit-Information Release-History

Most Special Events Included With Admission
$12.50 for Adults, $5 for Ages 5-12

Fall and Winter Hours Daily from 8:00 - 5:00 > no park entry or admission after 4:00
BTA is open 8:00 to 5:00 daily during Fall and Winter months, with no park entry after 4:00 so our final visitors each day have one full hour to explore the gardens and trails before we close at 5:00 sharp.

Guided Walks of the Main Trail December 15-16-17, and 22-23-24
11:00 a.m. - Tours Will Be Daily Starting January 1, 2018
Tour Guides Rich & Cindy Adams narrate arboretum history and point-out fascinating plants, animals and geology seen around the gardens on a guided walking tour at 11:00 a.m. Guided tours are included with daily admission; no pre-registration needed, just be in the visitor center breezeway lobby at start time. Tours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December - and expand to daily starting January 1, 2018.

Guided Bird Walk Friday December 15
8:30 a.m.
Arboretum guided bird walks are an ideal way to get into birding and to sharpen your skills – beginners are welcome. No binoculars are no problem! Ask in our gift shop when you pay admission – loaner binoculars are available. Lisa and Peggy return as Friday guides on Dec. 15 - and also Jan. 5. Our local Superior Christmas Bird Count is December 23, contact information is below. Want to check recent bird sightings? Read our hot-spot page on Ebird

Digital Photographers Roundtable December 16 , Saturday
10:00 a.m. in the lecture room
Photographers of all skill levels who enjoy digital image post-processing are invited to meet November 18, Saturday, at 10:00 a.m. in the Smith Building Lecture room (and again January 20). Beginners are definitely welcome to attend this popular recurring meetup, which includes programs and platforms beyond LightRoom and Photoshop. There's no additional charge to attend; meetings are free to BTA annual members and Az State Parks pass-holders, and included with $12.50 daily admission to nonmembers.
Planning to attend? This brief survey helps organizers plan their agenda each month
Monthly meetings usually include on-screen demonstrations of digital editing tools and techniques, discussion of artistic elements such as composition and lighting - and friendly critique of participants' photos. Future meetings are For more detail, Email Tim a brief RSVP, and feel free to mention your preferred editing software:

Tree Tour December 17 Sunday
1:30 p.m.
Silviculturally-speaking, and since an Arboretum is by definition a living collection of trees - what guided tour could be more fitting here than a once-a-month "Trees of BTA" guided walk? We invite those who love all things sylvan and want to learn more about trees to be here for a relaxed, slow-paced afternoon tour featuring Arboretum staffer certified Arborist Jeff Payneor else Miguel Hernandez, a chance to learn about trees both native to the Sonoran Desert and exotic, with a skilled professional's tips on tree care and horticulture.

Geology Guided Walk December 23 , Saturday
1:30 p.m.
Learn about rocks and volcanic formations along our main trail on a tour with professional Geologist Rich Leveilleas your guide. His lively 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. Another 'Rock Star' among our guide cadre is Scott McFadden, and get acquainted withASU Professor Steve Semken

Christmas Bird Count > Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, Oak Flat & Queen Valley
Saturday, December 23 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
How did Christmas Bird Counts begin? The Audubon Society reports: "prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the 'Christmas Side Hunt.' They would choose sides and go afield with their guns-whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won. Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a 'Christmas Bird Census' that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them."
Read more:
Birders enthused to join this venerable holiday tradition may participate with our local Superior ‘CBC’ on Dec. 23, Saturday. Coordinator Cynthia Donald arranges teams to census sparrows and tally towhees from Queen Valley and Whitlow Dam to Hewitt Station Road, desert foothills below Picketpost Mountain, here at BTA and the town of Superior - and up Queen Creek Canyon to the Oak Flat campground. Birders of all physical abilities are welcome; you don't have to be a hiker to participate - in fact, Cynthia would welcome a team of 'urban birders' enthused to canvass Superior neighborhoods by car. To volunteer with this count or request more information, call Cynthia at 480.283.4515 or email:

New Year's Day Blessing & Concert with Arvel Bird Monday January 1
12:00 Noon
Here's a resolution you’ll want to keep: begin 2018 here with a spiritual smoke blessing and special concert from noon ‘til 2:00 featuring inspiring Celtic fiddle and flute musician Arvel Bird, who returns to the Arboretum by popular demand for this New Year’s Day ritual. Curious how a recording artist with roots in both Paiute culture and Celtic music blends the two styles? Here’s a sneak preview
And for more of Arvel, check out this expanded version which includes interviews
Check the Arboretum website to verify times for other special Jan. 1 events such as ‘First Day Hikes.
Please note that if predictions are for rain or snow (remember New Year's day 2014?), Arvel will move indoors, where the audienc will be limited to 50, and seated first-come, first-served.
Before his success as a solo artist Arvel spent a decade playing fiddle for country legends including Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn and Louise Mandrell. Concerts are free if you're a BTA annual member; included with the $12.50 daily admission for those who aren't. Find more concert clips at
Connect with the artist at:

Edible - Medicinal Desert Plants Walk Guided By Jim Shepherd New Year's Day January 1
2:00 p.m.
Learn the edible and medicinal uses of native desert plants on a walk along our Curandero Trail guided by desert plants enthusiast Jim Shepherd. This leisurely one-hour walk is your chance to 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.
                      ** Please note: this guided tour explores the Curandero Trail, which has steep sections that are not suitable for visitors who use wheelchairs or walkersRead more about jojoba, creosote and prickly pears

Book Club Friday, December 1: Desert Trader, The Life and Quilts of Goldie Tracy Richmond
9:00 a.m.
Stopby our gift shop and get your copy of Desert Trader, The Life and Quilts of Goldie Tracy Richmond
wooden shade ramadas around the main trail offer a great place to read on a November day beneath towering shade trees, and our BTA book club showcases this title with a lively discussion that meets on Friday December 1. Desert Trader by Carolyn O’Bagy Davis tells the story of Goldie Tracy Richmond who came to Arizona in 1927. Goldie and her husband lived in a canvas lean-to and mined, ran traplines and operated Tracy’s Trading Post. Goldie lived among the Tohono O’odham people for four decades and the stories told by the O’odham people of her life are legendary. She spoke the Tohono O’odham language, and was known as a friend to the O’odham people. Goldie also made magnificent quilts with images of the desert landscape and Indian life; one was named one of the 100 most significant quilts of the twentieth century. Her amazing story is a compelling chapter in Arizona history. Attendance at our once-a-month meetup is included with $12.50 daily admission if you're not already among our annual members, or don't have an AZ State Parks annual pass (and free, of course, to all who do). Stop by this week for your copy or order a copy by mail, have a credit card ready and call 520.689.2723. RSVP that you plan to attend the book club meeting, please email an RSVP to Vicki Johnson:
email meeting coordinator Vicki

Pictures From Our Past - Slideshow & History Talk Sunday January 7
10:00 a.m. and repeats Saturday March 3, Sunday May 6 and Saturday July 7
Phoenix historian and author Sylvia Lee guides monthly walking tours narrating nuggets of Arboretum history - and putting her anecdotes in perspective next to 1920s structures, and the very first trees planted here. On Sunday January 7 starting at 10:00 a.m., Sylvia host another slideshow of vintage photos projected enlarged on a big screen - a chance to get better acquainted with Col. William Boyce Thompson and his Arboretum. This was also arranged for history fans who are physically unable to walk the 1.5 mile main trail. During an hour in our air-conditioned Lecture Room, Sylvia will show images of vintage historic structures and arboretum gardens while sharing her behind-the-scenes knowledge from spending the past decade researching the history of Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
READ MORE about arboretum history

Intro to Photography Workshop and outdoor shoot Sunday January 14
9:00 a.m. - no signup or pre-registration necessary
RSVP by email to MiMi for details
Read more and RSVP by Email
or phone 480.319.2229
There's no separate fee to attend - these informal sessions are included with $12.50 daily admission; free to Arboretum annual members and Arizona State Parks pass-holders.
Valley photographers MiMi, Jack, Tim, Mark and Kathy have photographed landscapes and people from Arizona to the Mediterranean, criss-crossing America, west to east and north to south exploring national parks, urban landscapes and exploring subjects through portrait, close-up photography. The quintet of photographers volunteer a day here at the Arboretum each month -- sharing their camera skills and coaching beginners. The goal is to share a few basic camera lessons while photographing the gardens. These photo walks include time for participants to learn basic camera functions ranging from aperture and exposure to white balance. In addition, participants will be able to ask their specific questions answered in a supportive small groups, each with a friendly camera coach whose goal is to "put the fun in camera functions, and eliminate aspects of photography that can be intimidating to beginners."

History Walking Tour with Sylvia Lee Saturday February 3
10:00 a.m. repeats Sunday April 1and Saturday June 2
You may have walked our trails a dozen times and never crossed paths with the Galapagos Tortoise pens. Take a moment to scan the horizon above Picket Post Mountain, can you imagine cavalry soldiers camped in this region in the late 1800s? Phoenix historian Sylvia Lee narrates this two-hour walking tour focused on the life and times of Colonel William Boyce Thompson, and his Arboretum. Sylvia's tour moves to 10:00 a.m. and on Saturday October 7, the same month that Arboretum daily hours return to the 8:00 to 5:00 Fall and Winter schedule.
READ MORE about arboretum history

Pinal Master Gardeners Workshop February 3
Fall and Winter Saturdays at 11:00
Green-thumbed volunteers with Pinal County's Superstition Mountain Master program present ‘Succulents: Out of Africa,' on Saturday Feb. 3 when their Saturday series of 11am outdoor workshops continues. Held on the tree-shaded flagstone courtyard in front of the Smith Building, this session will help keep you stocked with healthy greens, all year 'round. Workshops. Once-a-month Master Gardener workshops are free to BTA annual members and state-parks-pass-holders; included with $12.50 daily admission for others. Get active with our local Master Gardeners, their classes and volunteer work, call Carol at 602-438-4003 or email:

Painting Classes for Beginners - Intermediated February 4, March 4 and April 8
11:00 a.m. $35 - $47.50, enroll by Phone 608-618-3055
Ever wanted to try your hand with a brush and canvas or you just need to fine tune your skills? Enroll in the watercolor painting class that accomplished local artist Chuck Davison will coach here.
February 4, 2017 Watercolor Class: Hummingbirds
March 4, 2017 Watercolor Class: Wildflowers
April 8, 2017 Watercolor Class: Butterflies
They're affordably priced at $35 for BTA members, and if need more encouragement to signup, here's what one happy painter said a month or two back:
"We enjoyed Chuck's class and loved that it was held at our very favorite place: the Arboretum! Chuck is friendly and made the class fun. Because he allowed us the freedom to express our individual tastes through our paintings, we feel we brought home a unique piece of art...even though we all painted the same lizards. Friends and family are able to easily pick out who painted which lizard with the comment that they can tell because each lizard matches the personality of the artist."
Local artist Chuck Davison invites any and all students from beginning to advanced to learn watercolor painting; he gives step-by-step instruction and coaching to help paint a colorful botanical design.
Enrollment of $35 for Arboretum annual members ($47.50 nonmembers) includes all art supplies you'll need for the class - and includes the day's admission, too. Taught in the air-conditioned lecture room of the historic Smith Building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., enrollment includes canvas, paint, brushes, embellishments - plus light refreshments. Children are welcome to register along with an adult chaperone; both must be registered and pre-paid for the class.
To register call or text the instructor directly at 608-618-3055
See a few examples of Chuck's signature style and read more

Sunset Live Music: ‘Handpan’ Percussion
If you love the sound of steel drums or marimba – just wait ‘til you hear the peaceful sound of ‘handpan’ drums on a date to be announced when East Valley recording artist Saggio shares his singular music here, just before sunset. Saggio loves to create music outdoors, surrounded by nature and beauty – and wanted to celebrate the season with Arboretum members and visitors. Predictions for rain, excessive wind or cold weather will cancel his free concert – check the weather report, and feel free to call our staff and verify the music’s on.
520.689.2723 (during business hours 8am-5pm)
“I prefer to play informally, unplugged and improvising – to just be a part of the organic unfolding of the plant life as visitors make their way around, enjoying the gardens. I believe I have a beautiful unique sound to share, and I want to complement the natural beauty of the arboretum, not upstage it.”
Saggio’s new CD ‘Tree of Life’ will be available for purchase, too. Read more about Saggio and his dedication to the healing power of percussion and music at

Butterfly Walks Return Spring 2018
Join us for a guided butterfy walk each month of the Spring and Summer -- a walking tour to see, photograph and learn about colorful species ranging from Empress Leilia to Queen, Spring Azure and more. This leisurely, slow-paced guided tour proceeds along paths that are wheelchair-accessible, exploring our Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden, Demonstration Garden and Children's Garden collections. Revisit this page in March, 2018 for the butterfly walk schedule.

Guided Walk Narrated in French DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED
9:00 a.m.
Vous êtes invité à rejoindre notre nouveau tour guidé en Français ! Whether you’re learning French or fluent in the language, we’re offering a new tour guided in Gallic – a chance to walk our main trail and hear narration about familiar gardens and scenery described in that most romantic of all Romance languages. Catherine Dhuicq is a musician and expat living in Chandler; she loves the Arboretum gardens and wanted a unique, new way to volunteer here – and will lead a walking tour narrated in her native tongue _______________. She devoted time this summer to learning waypoints around the Main Trail and attending tours guided by our expert cadre of guides; as with other guided walks here, Catherine’s outing is included with $12.50 daily admission – and free for our annual members

Plants of the Bible Land Guided Walk
future dates are TO BE ANNOUNCED
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. This tour narrates palms, pomegranates, figs, olives, and other Plants of the Bible Land. Tours usually move to 1:30 p.m. during Fall and Winter months; date from October-through-April are TO BE ANNOUNCED.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, bring sunscreen and water bottle. Read more about
Plants of the Bible Lands on Facebook
The tour, conducted at a leisurely pace, lasts about 90 minutes and proceeds along wheelchair-accessible paths.
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.