Col. William Boyce Thompson founded the Boyce Thompson Arboretum during the 1920's. He had served as a co-leader for Red Cross's mercy mission in Russia during 1917 where he gained an understanding of plants and the important roll they played by contributing to several aspects of life. The Arboretum was the result of his determination to use his resources to improve the way plant resources were used.
At 323 acres it is the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona and was the first of its kind in the area. During 1976 an agreement between the University of Arizona, Boyce Thompson Arboretum Board and the Arizona State Parks Board in order to jointly manage the Arboretum. It is open to the public during the months of September to April from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. From May through August the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is open from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. Admission to the park ends an hour before the park closes. The park is closed on Christmas Day.
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum has a visitor center with a patio area that begins the experience of the park. There are handicap accessible restrooms available in the Smith Building and the Visitor Center. Food, gifts and books are available for purchase in the gift shop in addition to an art display that is rotated. There are also cactus and other desert plants for sale there.
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum also has six garden exhibits showing various plants. Children can search for treasure or have fun in the maze in the Children's Garden, other gardens provide unique experiences. There are a number of barbeque grills and thirty tables in the Arboretum's picnic area these are first come, first serve. There is a small parking area next to the picnic area, when it is full people are asked to use the main lot.
There are five hiking trails at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum that allow visitors to have the full experience of the facilities goal. Visitors on the trails are asked to leave everything the way that they found it. The Arboretum attracts various forms of wildlife and birds for visitors to enjoy along the trails.
All the rules and regulations of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum should be followed at all times. While pets are welcome they must be kept on a leash that is a maximum of six feet long at all times, owners should be able to control them. The owners of pets are expected to clean up after them. There should be proper adult supervision of children at all times.
Smoking is only allowed in the main parking lot of the visitor center and nowhere else on the premises. Visitors are asked to resist the urge to pick anything in the Arboretum, and not to remove anything from it. There should not be any harm done to any animals or plants in the Boyd Thompson Arboretum. It is an experience that everyone should have at least once in order to truly appreciate nature.
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