Guidelines for a Pleasant Visit-Information Release-History

Most Special Events Included With Admission
$10 for Adults, $5 for Ages 5-12

National Public Garden Day - Get Online Coupon for Free Admission May 8 Friday
Boyce Thompson Arboretum returned to Summer hours in May and we're open daily from 6:00am to 3:00 pm through September. One special Friday, May 8, the Arboretum joins botanical gardens, arboreta and botanical institusions offering free admission on National Public Gardens Day - a coupon is required, click here to obtain your free pass online from the American Public Gardens Association

North American Migrant Bird Count Saturday May 9
Can you ID most of the common desert birds with confidence? Pinal County coordinator Doug Jenness needs teams of skilled birders recording all they can see and hear at BTA, Oak Flat, upstream along Queen Creek, and at Top-Of-The-World (also “urban birds” in parks and neighborhoods in our neighboring town of Superior, also Queen Valley and Gold Canyon). To volunteer with the cuont, call Doug Jenness at 520-909-1529, or email

Mothers' Day Weekend Camera Basics Classs May 9 , Saturday
9am - and with a Mothers' Day Brunch Option at Jade Grill
Does your mom, wife, sister, daughter or aunt love taking pictures? Here's a unique Mother's Day gift - and one that includes more flowers than your average bouquet: enroll her in a camera class taught by two professional photographers and held in our colorful gardens Saturday May 9. Enrollment is $30 for BTA annual members, $40 non-members; have a credit card ready and call 520-689-2723. For another $10 you can also buy her brunch and a chance to socialize with the photography class over a special Mother’s Day brunch served family-style by Chef Lucy Wing at Jade Grille. Her menu? Ricotta pancakes with fruit compote, cheesy scrambled eggs with sausage home-fries and tomato bruschetta – with a light dessert of gelato with prosecco! The 11:00am brunch at Jade Grill is optional; and a separate $10 cash.
Read more complete details on our Photo Class Page

Learn Your Lizards Guided Walks May 9, May 30, June 13
8:00 AM with Steven Prager, May 30 with Wild Man Phil Rakoci, June 13 with Steve & Audrey Owens
This entertaining guided walk isn't just for for kids -- this one's popular with all who enjoy Arizona's most common, colorful and charismatic little reptiles. There's no additional fee, and no pre-registration necessary, just be in our Visitor Center breezeway at 8:00am start time. Arizona Audubon Society naturalist Steve Prager guides our first two walks May 9 and also June 13 (with Audrey Owen as a backup guide in June) -- and mark your calendar for Saturday May 30 when our guide is Casa Grande reptile wrangler and outdoor educator 'Wild Man Phil' Rakoci
July 11 guides are Abi King from Arizona Game & Fish Department as our guest - along with 'Wild Man Phil'. Abi & Phil return as guides August 8, then our season finale September 12 will be guided by Phil -- plus Tucson author Larry Jones.See photos andconnect with Wild Man Phil on Facebook. See photos and read more

Girl Scout Badge Saturday Workshops May 9, 16, 23
Badge workshops arent just for girl scouts -- "non-scout" girls may be enrolled, and even boys too! Three Spring 2015 workshops remains are the 'Woodworker' badge for Cadettes May 9, then Junior scouts will earn the Gardener badge May 16 and Brownies study 'Bugs' May 23. Download our Registration PDF. Registration of a non-refundable down-payment of $20 is required to hold a position for a scout or troop. Workshop admission fees are $10 per scout and $10 per adult chaperone; $5 for each non-scout between ages 5-12 (yes, these workshops are open to kids other than girl scouts – even boys). To sign up and prepay have a credit card ready and call Arboretum staff at 520-689-2723 during daytime business hours. Make sure to pre-register at least two days prior to the workshop date, and when you call please tell our staff the specific workshop and date you wish to register for, your Girl Scout troop number, your name (or the troop leader's name); contact phone numbers, and the number of scouts and chaperones attending. Questions? email Lacey at [] or call her at 520.689.2723 during daytime business hours.

LightRoom 5 Users Group May 10 , Sunday
10am til noon in the Smith Building Lecture Room
Photographer and digital editing enthusiasts Rimgaudas and Jack 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. Connect with Rim and read more complete details on our Photo Class Page

Plants of the Bible Land Guided Walk Saturday May 16 at 8AM
moves to 8:00am Third Saturday each month June 20, July 18
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. Join Arboretum volunteers on a guided tour to learn about palms, pomegranates, figs, olives, and other plants of the Bible Land. Tours are April 12 & 18. From May-through-Septemberthis tour moves to a morning start time. Wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, and don't forget your sunscreen and water bottle. 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. Read a more complete description of our Plants of the Bible Land Guided Tour

Wine Bottle Windchimes May 16
Saturday from 9:00am til Noon. $30 for BTA member, $40 nonmembers . With your credit card ready, call 520.689.2723 to enroll. Learn how to cut and string empty wine bottles into a beautiful wind chime with coaching from BTA's 'Artist-In-Residence' couple Vicki & Gerald Johnson. Participants will assemble prepared bottles to create a melodic wind chime, then decorate 'em with adornments such as beads. Materials including cut and prepped wine bottles will be included. Would your community's wine tasting club, Red Hat ladies or other community group like to book this class for a private group? Email
Lacey at

Tree Tour With Jeff Payne Sunday May 17
8:00 am; repeats June 21 - Father's Day
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.

Geology walking tour Saturday, May 23 , with Scott McFadden
**Summer 8am start time
Learn about rocks and volcanic formations along our main trail on a guided tour with Professional Geologist Scott McFadden (and Scott returns June 27); 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. Watch our schedule for future dates when this walk will be guided by ASU Professor Steve Semken

Butterfly Walk May 23
9:00am with Laura & Marceline
Join Laura Miller and Marceline VandeWater for a chance 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. Laura Miller and Marceline VandeWater lead the walk May 23 at 9:00 am, and then Marceline guides the walk at 8:30am June 27.
See Butterfly Photos and Learn IDs from CAZBA

Gourd Art For Beginners May 23
May 23, Saturday; 9am - noon. $35-$45.
Try your hand at gourd art -- gourds offer a 3-D canvas, they're a medium you can paint, etch, carve, burn, stitch, emboss on or all of the above. Basic Gourd Art returns Saturday morning May 23 and spaces are available, call 520.689.2723 and have a credit card ready to prepay the $35 fee ($45 for nonmembers). Gourd art is the most popular workshop offered by our artists-in-residence Vicki and Gerald Johnson; they've expanded their creative series to include advanced gourd workshops such as 'pine needle coiling', thunder gourds, and even a new class in gourd mask-making. For more info, email lpacheco@cals.arizona.ed

Advanced Photography Composition with Sue Tatterson
to be on the Waiting list
email [ BTAinfo AT ]
In the visual arts, line, shape, form, pattern and texture are the basic elements of design; learning to use them successfully in your photographic compositions will enhance your skillset and take your photographs to another level. Gold Canyon artist Sue Tatterson leads a workshop exploring each of these design elements in depth. Read a more complete description at our
Photo Class Pagefor details about other Camera classes

Edible - Medicinal Desert Plants Sunday Walk Guided By David Morris May 24
**Summer tours at 8:00 am May 24 - then June 28 with Kathy and Tom McDonald
Explore our Curandero Trail on a one-hour walk guided by ethno-botanist and Choctaw Tribal Nation member David Morris -- a desert plant enthusiast who shares anecdotes about prickly pears, and explains ways native plants have fed, healed and clothed Sonoran desert peoples for more than one thousand years. During Summer months hour are daily from 6am-3pm and tours moving to cooler AM start times; this Sunday walk repeats June 28 with Kathy and Tom McDonald returning as guides (they're Arizona State Parks Volunteers and owners of Smiling Dog Landscapes in Gold Canyon). ** Please note: this tour explores the Curandero Trail, which has steep sections that are not suitable for visitors who use wheelchairs or walkers. Read more about jojoba, creosote and prickly pears

Guided Bird Walks
* * revisit this page for May-June-July Dates
Summer Tanager, Yellow Warbler, Hammond's Flycatcher and Northern Cardinal were reported on our guided bird walk this past weekend Read the bird checklist report and join us for guided walks to learn basic bird identification skills, and where to find birds at BTA.

Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Classes Aug. 1-2, Aug. 29-30
9:30am. And Don't Miss Superior’s Annual Festival Aug. 24
Have you wanted to pick a peck o’ prickly pears, but didn't know how to get the stickers off before turning the bright red fruits into tasty jelly – or margaritas? On two special weekends in August we’ll offer back-to-back classes on Saturdays and Sundays Aug. 1-2 and also Aug. 29-30 coaching the finer points of processing the ripe fruit of the season for fresh batches of jelly, jam, syrup and more. Workshops feature Chef Eric & Terri of Tall Order Catering, with their unique spin on Cactus Cuisine and lessons on de-spining & processing. No pre-registration is necessary for any of these classes, just be in the visitor center breezeway by the 9:30am start time. Over the years more than 2,000 have attended BTA’s unique series of cactus classes teaching “How To Juice Prickly Pears” -- a summertime series so popular it spawned a cactus culinary festival in the neighboring town of Superior. Our experts share proven techniques to pick, prepare, process and preserve these juicy, seasonal fruits of the Sonoran Desert -- with tasty, healthy prickly pear snacks shared at the end of each class. Learn from prickly pear pickin’ pros! And mark your calendar to attend the 4th Annual Prickly Pear Festival in Superior on Aug. 22. Superior’s culinary celebration of cactus cuisine includes guided desert hike, a pancake breakfast - complete with prickly pear syrup, of course; vendors and guest speakers. Preview the event
check out this Prickly Pear Festival Gallery By Jack Haskell

Arboretum History Walk Sunday FALL DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED
this tour resumes in October
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? Learn about the life and times of Colonel William Boyce Thompson and his Arboretum on a walking tour guided by Phoenix historian Sylvia Lee. Walks typically last about 90-minutes, departing at 10am from the Visitor Center breezeway. Correspond with Sylvia, or read more about

Home School Day Tours - Email to be on our list
email Lacey at to be on the list for 2016
Our guides were pleased to see the positive response to our final Home School Days event in April ("plants of the bible lands" guided tours"); to be on the email list for the 2016 schedule, email education coordinator lacey at so you'll be among the first to be notified about dates for 2016 home school tours. And if you'd like to attend our regularly-scheduled Plants of the Bible Lands guided walking tour, these continue on the third Saturday each month: April 18 at 1:30pm. The popular tour moves to a morning start time of 8am during Summer months May 16, June 20, July 18 and August 15. Want more info about Home School days? download our informative PDF

Master Gardener Presentations

Volunteers with the Superstition Mountain Master Gardeners program will resume their Fall-Winter once-a-month Saturday series of seminars.There's no pre-registration required to attend these once-a-month workshops offered by Superstition Mountain Master Gardener volunteers, and no additional fee or enrollment - these are included with daily admission of $10 at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. For more info about our local Master Gardeners group, their classes and volunteer work, call Carol at

Camera Basics: Moving To Manual With Michael Madsen & Patty Van Herpen
DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED call 520-689-2723 to be on our mailing list f
Looking for an inexpensive class in photography and camera basics? Sign-up soon for this one: an informal but thorough Saturday afternoon that begins with classroom time, then moves outdoors for in-the-field camera practice and coaching. One recent participant wrote this: "I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this class, it was extremely helpful to me. The instructors, specially Michael, were professional, knowledgable and were able to relate well to the group. Thanks so much.". Here's one more: ""I loved the camera class given by Michael & Patty! Information was presented very well and the hands-on shoot that afternoon very helpful. An informative, and also fun class as well. BTA is one of my favorite places to go for learning." Read more complete details on our Photo Class Page

Bye-Bye Buzzards - on a September Saturday To Be Announced
7am Vulture Viewing, 8:30am bird walk, 9am-1pm Live Bird Exhibit
March 21 brings the Spring Equinox, observed by cultures from the ancient Greeks to Aboriginal Australians; the Arboretum has a day filled with events starting just after sunrise with the annual 'Welcome Back Buzzards' seasonal send-off. with a special Saturday early opening at 7:00 am, one hour early for this month, to see the famous flock of Turkey Vultures perched on the cliffs before they depart to spend their day soaring the skies. World-traveled ASU Professor Dave Pearson will be our special guest 'Vulture-ologist' from 7:00-8:30, talking about the big black birds, answering questions and sharing his appreciation for the soaring scavengers until the vultures take to the skies -- typically by 8:30am. Dr. Pearson and others will guide birdwalks through the gardens at 8:30, and from 9:00-2:00 volunteer wildlife rehabbers from the Arizona Game & Fish Department will have their popular living exhibit of raptors and reptiles set up near the Smith Building, so kids and adults alike can have closeup views of a real, live Turkey Vulture along with hawks and owls.
View a Bye Bye Buzzards Day event video by Arboretum Volunteer Mike Rolfe

Full Moon Drum Circle DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED
Looking for a unique way to salute the rising full moon? Cindy Green is organizing a ‘Full Moon Drum Circle’ on that Sunday evening, two hours of participatory percussion beneath our towering and shady trees that encircle the Smith Building courtyard. Drummers are invited to call Cindy Green at 480-299-4129, or to email Cindy at [] for details. Green coaches drum-building workshops, and says all drums are welcome. No percussion? No problem! Green will bring a few loaners for those who wish to participate and revel in the ancient sound of drums echoing in the towering hackberry and mesquite trees which shade the Smith Building front courtyard. BTA closes at ____ p.m. during ______; we'll reopen the main gate at ______ for BTA members on this special evening. The two-hour drum circle begins at_______, continuing through sunset and by the light of the rising full moon, expected at _________, ending and closing the park again at dark _______. You're not among our members yet, but would like to join us and attend? Membership starts at $50 for a full year for a couple - and that includes a pair of one-time-use guests passes to bring two friends or family for a visit; with a credit card ready call 520-689-2723 to order a membership by phone. View a short film clip of Cindy Green drumming at BTA