The oldest botanical garden in Arizona is just an hour away from Phoenix and an easy drive up Highway 60.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum fall colors happen a little later than you might traditionally picture the changing seasons, but we are in the desert, after all.
Just after thanksgiving is a good signal that it’s time to head to Superior and view the colors here.
Travel to Superior, Arizona
Travel time from the airport in Phoenix to see the Boyce Thompson Arboretum fall colors is about 50 minutes, as long as you are not going during rush hour. If so, allow more time to get out of Phoenix. Most of the drive is smooth and easy once you get past Mesa.
You will drive through Apache Junction, Mesa, and Gold Canyon as long as you are coming from the Phoenix metro area.
You will also pass the area that holds the Renaissance Festival every year in the area. From here, you have about 15-20 more minutes of driving.
If you are a hiking fan, you will pass the turn (there’s a light) for the Peralta trail area. There is some excellent hiking here, and the dirt roads to get back here are not bad.
Speaking of dirt roads, there are also numerous off-road areas along the way if you enjoy that. I have done a lot of my night shooting on these roads.
Parking and Admission
The entrance is right off highway 60 to a minor road and you will enter the gardens at that point. Every time I have gone, the parking has been plentiful, especially early in the day.
You can purchase tickets when you arrive, or now you can even buy them in advance pretty quickly and just show your printed receipt when arriving, which is very convenient. Head over to the ticketing info page.
Boyce Thompson also holds plenty of events, from fabulous plant sales to bird walks and more. See their events page for more info.
Autumn and COlor SHooting
If you are coming here for fall colors, remember we are in the desert, and farther south, so those colors will start a little later than we typical think. You may see coloring start in October, but historically, late November to early December is a fair time to catch peak colors here.
If you saw color pics from here and they contained a bridge, odds are it was Berber Suspension Bridge. It’s a very photogenic bridge that you can shoot from or include in your photos in various ways.
If you decide to cross the bridge, you will be taking the High Trail, which offers some very scenic views and will end towards the front of the arboretum. View the map here.
For the Birds
This is an excellent location for birders! Photographing, watching, and checking off your list, this is a hot spot for birds.
Over 280 species of birds have been spotted here. At this time of writing, almost 70 species were seen two weeks before or after the recommended time of view for fall colors this year. And while you are here, check out some of my birding photography.
Hiking The Trails
The main trail is 1.5 miles long and very easy. This trail accommodates wheelchairs as well. The high trail is a neat trail and more strenuous. The park totals 4.5 miles of trails in total. I hope you enjoy the Boyce Thompson Arboretum fall colors someday!