Guidelines for a Pleasant Visit-Information Release-History

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

Picket Post Mansion Tour Weekend December 10 - 11
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
After a five-year hiatus, Picket Post Mansion opens for two special weekends of public tours return Dec. 10-11, and again Jan. 7 - 8. Non-members are required to pay Arboretum daily admission of $10 to enter the Arboretum grounds and walk the half-mile main trail to reach the mansion gate; mansion tour tickets cost an additional $20 each, and money raised during these special weekends of mansion tours helps support Boyce Thompson Arboretum.Mark your calendar and don't miss these rare opportunities to walk through Colonel William Boyce Thompson's venerable mansion perched on volcanic cliffs overlooking his namesake Arboretum. BTA members and AZ State Parks pass-holders just pay the $20 mansion tour fee. The Arboretum opens at 8:00 a.m. during Fall and Winter months. Buy tour tickets in the Arboretum gift shop when you arrive - tickets are not sold in advance.
Preview the mansion tour -- check out this gallery that Patsy Akers posted on our Facebook back in 2011, when tours were last offered.

Saturday-Sunday-Monday Guided Walk of the Main Trail 11:00 AM
December 10, 11, 12 and Continuing December 17 and 19 -- no tour December 18 or 25
11:00 AM tour start time
Arizona State Parks volunteers narrate Arboretum history and point out colorful plants, birds, and seasonal changes on guided walking tours Saturday-Sunday-Monday on Dec. 10, 11, 12; also Dec. 17 and 19 (please note -- tours are not scheduled Dec. 18 or Dec. 25). Meet in the visitor center breezeway; tours are free to BTA annual members, also free if you have an Arizona State Parks pass – and included with daily admission $10 for nonmembers.

Guided Bird Walks December 9, 16, 23 and 30
8:30 A.M. bright red resident Northern Cardinals are among dozens of species seen and heard around the gardens here every week --Read bird checklist reports and learn where to find them on guided 8:30 a.m. birdwalks. New Weekly Friday bird walks with Tom & Carol continue December 9, 16, 23 and 30. Anne Leight and Kathe Anderson guide a Sunday walk December 11.

Edible - Medicinal Desert Plants Walk Guided By Kathy & Tom December 10, Saturday
1:30 p.m. > then a special January 1 New Years Day walk with David Morris
Explore our Curandero Trail on a slow-paced walk guided by local authors and desert plant enthusiasts Kathy and Tom McDonald, owners of Smiling Dog Landscapes in Gold Canyon; 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. Special guest guide for our January 1 New Year's Day Sunday tour will be
Choctaw Nation member and ethno-botanist David Morris
** 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

PBernie Haley Flute Concert Saturday, December 17
12:00 noon til 2:00 p.m.

Our gardens offer a peaceful respite during all four seasons -- and Flute player Bernie Haley invites Arboretum members, their guests and visitors for a peaceful Saturday interlude Dec. 17: a lunchtime concert from about 12-2 where he’ll play flute, didgeridoo, and maybe even some guitar.
"Bernie's flute music ranges from soothing and peaceful to soaring and inspiring," said BTA annual member, Linda. "The first time I heard him play was the November live music festival, where he played flute and didgeridoo in front of the Drover's Wool Shed. Music outdoors at BTA is always something special - and Bernie's style is particularly suited to the gardens and trails. Can you imagine anything more relaxing than having an hour to sit in the sun and listening to live flute music while the wind rustles leaves and birds are singing in the gardens nearby?"
As usual, live music here will be free to our annual members - included with regular Arboretum daily admission of $10.

Plants of the Bible Land Guided Walk Saturday December 17
1:30 Start Time, repeats on the third Saturday each month: January 21 and February 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. Arboretum volunteer tourguide Dave Oberpriller leads this tour to learn about palms, pomegranates, figs, olives, and other plants of the Bible Land. Wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, bring sunscreen and water bottle.
The tour, conducted at a leisurely pace, lasts about 90 minutes
and proceeds along wheelchair-accessible paths.
Check out a few Plants of the Bible Lands on Facebook
. 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

Tree Tour with Jeff Payne December 18
1:30 pm - and repeats January 15 and February 19
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 and certified Arborist Jeff Payne (on alternate months, Horticultural Specialist 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

New Years Weekend Saturday Photography Walk-A-Bout with MiMi Paris
Spaces Limited - RSVP by email or phone to MiMi
Valley artist MiMi Paris has 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 making amazing portraits. She’s kicking-off the New Year as host of a new photography walkabout at Boyce Thompson Arboretum Dec. 31. The venue is outdoors and informal, and the goal is to share a few basic camera lessons while photographing the gardens. Her walking tour will include time for participants to learn basic camera functions ranging from aperture and exposure to white balance. In addition, participants will be able to get their specific questions answered in a supportive environment - a small group 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." Read more and RSVP by Email or Phone

Gourd Art for Beginners January 8
10 a.m. (class repeats February 4)
Try your hand at a new art form this fall; gourd art offer a three-dimensional canvas, gourds are inexpensive, and a medium you can paint, etch, carve, burn, stitch, emboss upon -- or all of the above. Vicki & Gerald Johnson’s popular introductory workshop in Basic Gourd Art returns Saturday (Nov. 5) and spaces are available, to enroll call 520.689.2723 with your credit card ready to prepay the $40 fee ($50 for nonmembers). A class for beginners and repeat students wanting to improve their skills - basic gourd art includes gourd cleaning and preparation, choosing and drawing a design, wood-burning and applying color.

Geology Guided Walk November 26
** 1:30 p.m.
Learn about rocks and volcanic formations along our main trail on a tour with Professional geologist Phil St. George as your guide; his 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 of our engaging BTA geology tour guides is professional geologist Rich Leveilleand get acquainted with another charismatic rock walk guide, ASU Professor Steve Semken

Book Club Friday, December 2 - Navajo Weapon, The Navajo Code Talkers by Sally McClain
9:00 a.m. achievements of the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II remained secret for decades. When Sally McClain learned about the Code Talkers, and was inspired by the Navajo that she met to write their personal stories in Navajo Weapon, Navajo Code Talkers. Using first-person accounts, correspondence and Marine Corps documents, McLain tells the remarkable story of how Navajo Code Talkers worked together with the U.S. Marine Corps to create their unbreakable code which helped save countless American lives and earned the Navajo Code Talkers the undying respect of their comrades in arms. Our BTA book club showcases a new title each month, with a lively Friday morning discussion group. Attendance at our once-a-month meetup is included with $10 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). And each month's book is available in our gift shop. 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 meeting coordinator Vicki

Home School Day Tours 2017
for details email Lacey at
Guided tours offered to public school groups are also available to home-schoolers on special Fall-Winter dates, ranging from $2 - $10 per person. Our popular Plants of the Bible Lands day for home-schoolers on November 3; and then December 1 brings a workshop in geology and rock identification. Pre-registration is required; for more complete descriptions of each day, or to be added to our email list for the 2016-2017 schedule, contact education coordinator lacey at with this as your subject line:
Home School Days at BTA

Gardening Workshop With Pinal Master Gardeners February 4
Saturdays once-a-month Starting February 4
“Fruits of Your Labor”is the topic Saturday, February 4 at 11am
when green-thumbed volunteers with Pinal County's Superstition Mountain Master program resume their informal series of Saturday morning once-a-month outdoor workshops. Ever since man first tasted the apple, luscious fruit has become essential to our diet. In Arizona we can grow apples, oranges, lemons, peaches, figs, plums, apricots, pomegranates and more in our backyards and even patios! Make your desert garden more “fruitful." For more information about our local Master Gardeners, their classes and volunteer work, call Carol at 602-438-4003 or email:

Spring 2017 Learn Your Lizards Guided Walks
This entertaining guided tour around the gardens is not just for kids -- our popular Lizard Walks are for all who enjoy Arizona's most common, colorful and charismatic little reptiles. expert guides include Arizona Audubon naturalist Steven Prager, along with with Arizona Game & Fish Department reptile researcher Dan Leavitt, and Jamie Wisenall; watch a sneak preview of their Lizard Walk on Arizona Wildlife Views YouTube
There's no additional fee to attend Lizard walks and other nature tours here, and no pre-registration necessary, just be in our Visitor Center breezeway at start time. See photos and read more

Butterfly Walks Resume April 2017
9:30 a.m.
Gail Morris found so much Butterfly variety in our gardens on her October walk that she offered to lead a "Sunday Special" season finale butterfy walk November 13 -- a walking tour to see, photograph and learn about colorful species ranging from Empress Leilia to Queen, Spring Azure and more. This relaxed and slow-moving walk explores our Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden, Demonstration Garden and Children's Garden collections. Read more about butterflies in this interview with ASU Professor Ron Rutowski

Dragonfly Walks May - June July 2017
8:30 AM
Our once-a-month odonate excursion is an interpreted walking tour to Ayer Lake and garden water features -- a chance to learn about these beautiful, fascinating insect predators. ASU Professor Pierre Deviche is our guide, see colorful photos and read more about Flame Skimmers, Blue Dashers and Mexican Amberwings at this excellent website launched by Pierre:
Bring your camera - our guides safely net a few dragonflies for visitors to view and photograph close-up, before releasing the insects unharmed.