Guidelines for a Pleasant Visit-Information Release-History

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

* * please note * * Thanksgiving Thursday Hours 7:00am - 3:00 pm
early open Thursday November 26 - with 3pm Holiday closing
The Arboretum is open Thanksgiving day, but with an earlier opening hour of 7:00am - and closing at 3:00 pm. We're open also Black Friday, November 27, and both days of the holidy weekend.

Fall Foliage Finale Thanksgiving Weekend - With Live Music By Scott Schaefer
November 28-29
Chinese Pistachio trees here sport vivid seasonal colors from harvest gold to pumpkin orange and red each November for Arizona's Fall Foliage Finale, a full glorious month after the colorful aspen and maple leaves have already fallen and denuded trees of Arizona's higher elevation deciduous forests. Foliage here usually peaks November from Nov. 20-Dec.5, particularly the week of Thanksgiving. Celebrate Thanksgiving here - we're open Thanksgiving Day and visitor are welcome to BBQ in our picnic area. We're also open 'Black Friday' for all who prefer scenic gardens over shopping malls & doorbusters.
Thanksgiving weekend brings our annual Fall Foliage Finale Festival with live music both days by Scott Schaefer (flute, didgeridoo, guzheng)' sometimes along with surprise guest accompanists (check his website for updates). Carry some cash for a cup of hot spiced cider, arts & crafts vendors both days of the weekend, with events from about 10:00 a.m. til 3:00 p.m. No lunch plans? Bring cash Chef Eric & Terri of Tall Order Catering will be here Saturday with a choice of three savory, hearty soups: posole, roasted pumpkin soup, and tomato bisque - from $3-$5 (cash only).
Brick oven pizza Sunday the 29th? Yes local baker Bert Archer will bring his trailer-mounted pizza oven back and serve made-to-order artisan pizzas for $15 cash on the Sunday of our event. Place pizza orders by 11am, they start emerging from the oven starting by about 11:45. For seasonal updates and reports on the Fall color as it progresses
Check our Facebook page at:
Or call staff at 520-689-2723 during daytime business hours.

Geology walking tour Saturday, November 28 , with Rich Leveille
** 1:30pm November 28 with Rich Leveille
Learn about rocks and volcanic formations along our main trail on a guided tour with andprofessional geologist Rich Leveille . 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. There's no rock walk planned for December;revisit this page in January to see the 2016 schedule for winter-spring geology walks. Another engaging geology guide isASU Professor Steve Semken

Monday Guided Walking Tours of the Main Trail November 30
11:00 AM; also Saturday Dec. 5 - and each Monday of December
What bird molts foot-long wing feathers beneath the towering eucalyptus grees?   How old is a 6-foot high Saguaro... and can you name a few edible desert plants? Hear the answers and learn about the Arboretum's history and mission on a relaxed, leisurely guided walking tour of the main trail with Arizona State Parks tourguide Clyde Waterman each Monday this Fall and Winter. Tours depart the visitor center every Monday at 11am and are included with $10 daily admission; tours are also offered on occasional Saturdays by Jim Shepherd -- his next is December 5. read more in our E-newsletter

Holiday Craft Classes: ‘Succulent Wreath & Centerpiece’ December 2 & 6
9am. Décor that’s seasonally festive and truly ‘Green’ for the holiday season – learn to make a ‘living succulent wreath / centerpiece’ Dec. 2 or Dec. 6 during unique morning workshops. Enrollment of $30-$40 for annual members, $40 for non-members. To enroll please call during daytime business hours 8am-5pm, have a credit card ready to prepay and reserve your space. 520-689-2723. See the complete list of 2016 craft classes and dates below

Craft Classes: Gourd Art, Wine Bottle Wind Chimes - And More
with a credit card ready, call 520-689-2723 to enroll and prepay for classes
Living Succulent Wreath or Centerpiece
. Dec 2 and also Dec. 6. $30-$40. Students will make a living wreath or centerpiece using succulent cuttings. Plants and all materials are provided, but students may bring special bows or other items for decoration. Students will leave with a completed project.
Gourd Art 9am-1pm Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 2 and April 6. $35-$45. Basic gourd art includes gourd cleaning and preparation, choosing and drawing a design, woodburning and applying color. A class for beginners and repeat students wanting to improve their skills. A cleaned gourd and all materials are provided; most students leave with a completed project
Wine Bottle Wind Chimes 9am-1pm on Jan. 6, 2016 and again Feb. 20. $30-$40. Learn to cut recycled wine bottles to use as the base for a wind chime. Cut bottles will be provided, as well as beads, chain and all materials. Students are encourage to bring needle nose pliers and wire cutters if they have them. Students will leave with a completed project.
Closed Coiling on Gourds Jan. 23, Feb. 7, March 23 $45-$55. an introduction to the closed coiling technique, covering paper rush with waxed linen thread, weaving it onto the rim of a gourd to create a decorative finish. A prepared gourd and all materials will be provided. Students may bring special feathers, beads and other adornments if desired. Depending on skill level, this project may not be finished in class. Materials will be provided to take home to complete the project if necessary. It is recommended that students take Gourd Art to learn the basics before taking this class, but it is not required. Students may take Gourd Art prior to this class to decorate their gourd, but must let instructors know they are doing so.
Thunder Gourds 9am-1pm Jan. 20, Feb. 13, April 30. $75-$85
Make a gourd with a synthetic drum head and spring that makes a rumbling thunder-like noise when shaken. We recommend students should have taken a basic Gourd Art class prior to this more advanced workshop, but it is not required. A cleaned and cut gourd and all materials are provided - and students leave with a completed project.
Gourd Mask $85-$105 (2-day class). Saturday & Sunday, January 16 & 17; Wednesday and Thursday, February 17 & 18; Saturday & Sunday, March 5 & 6; Saturday & Sunday, April 9 & 10. Make a mask using half of a gourd in this class. Day one is spent designing the mask, woodburning and applying color. Day 2 is spent adding feathers and other adornments to the mask. A prepared gourd and all materials are provided, but students may bring special feathers, beads and other adornments if they want. It is recommended that students take Gourd Art prior to this class to learn the basics, but it is not required. Students will leave with a completed project.
Gourd Rain Sticks Feb. 3, Feb. 27, April 16. $45-$55. Create the sound of rain with a gourd, chicken wire and rice! Students will be provided a clean prepared gourd and all materials. It is recommended that students take Gourd Art to learn the basics before taking this class, but it is not required. Students will leave with a completed project
Pine Needle Coiling on Gourds, Jan. 3, also April 20. $45-$55. Students will learn to weave pine needles on the rim of a gourd to create a decorative finish. A clean and prepared gourd and all materials are provided, but students may bring special feathers, beads or other adornments if they like. It is recommended that students take Gourd Art to learn the basics before this class, but it is not required. Students may take Gourd Art prior to this class to decorate their gourd, but must let instructors know they are doing so. Most students will complete their project in class, materials will be provided to finish at home if necessary
Terrarium March 11 & March 12 from 10am-3pm. $15. Walk-in class, reservations not needed. Create an indoor garden in a glass container with the succulents of your choice. Large glass containers, soil and rocks will be provided, students will purchase their succulent plants separately. Students may bring special accessories for their terrarium and will leave with a completed project.

Home School Day Tours: December 3 Plants of the Bible Lands
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 is December 3 -- and this repeats on April 7, 2016. Also new this year is morning dedicated to Geology of this region on February 4 - and the Arizona Tour returns on March 3. For more complete descriptions of each day, or to be added to our email list for the 2016 schedule, contact education coordinator lacey at with this as your subject line: Home School Days at BTA

Book Club Meets Friday, December 4
9:00 AM in the Smith Building Lecture Room
Bestselling author Tony Hillerman introduces his readers to Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn in The Blessing Way, a mystery thriller that seems to involve the supernatural. Evil is in the air as Leaphorn pursues a wolf-witch on a chilling trail through the Lukachukai Mountains on the Navajo Reservation – following clues that lead to murder and mysticism. Whether you are new to Tony Hillerman’s writing, or consider him an old friend, join us as we read this month’s special selection, the first of eighteen books to feature Joe Leaphorn. Our BTA book club showcases a new title each month, with a lively Friday morning discussion group. Attendance at our once-a-month Tuesday 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

Guided Bird Walks December 5 and 13
Our resident Northern Cardinals were among dozens of species seen and heard around the gardens this week -- Read bird checklist reports and join us for a walk guided by photographer Cindy Marple on December 5 - and then Kathe Anderson & Mark Ochs guide our season finale Dec. 13. Birdwalks resume for 2016 with photographer Cindy Marple guiding on February 6 along with Arizona Audubon staff Cathy Wise and Steven Prager.

Girl Scout Badge Workshops 2015-2016
December 5, January 9 and January 30 > more 2016 dates listed below
$10 per scout, $10 per adult chaperone - call 520.689.2723 to pre-register and prepay

Dec. 5 Junior scouts have the "Arizona" badge from 9am-12:30pm. The Arboretum is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the perfect place to learn about the diverse cultures, wildlife and plant life that make Arizona unique. The Girl Scouts will tour behind the scenes of the Arboretum to see how a state park operates, and hike the trail to learn to identify plants and wildlife. Scouts will also learn to prepare Navajo tacos, taste foods from native plants and participate in activities designed to teach about the history of Arizona (Cadettes have this badge workshop Jan. 9, 2016.Other 2016 workshops include Geocatching for Juniors Jan. 30, Flowers for Juniors March 26, 'Bugs' for Brownies April 3, and 'Gardener' for Juniors April 23; 'Animal Habitats' for Juniors May 1, 'Senses' for Brownies May 7, 'Wood Worker' for Cadettes May 14 and the 'Arizona' patch for Brownies May 21

Master Gardeners Present: Plants of the Mediterranean December 5
11am. new workshops February 6: "For The Birds," also March and April 2016
Dream of vacationing in an Italian Villa? Does the word “Mediterrean” evoke the image of Spanish-inspired courtyard gardens, terra cotta pots and vibrant colors found in homes bordering the Adriatic and Aegean seas? Superstition Mountain Master Gardeners will explain how landscape choices such as citrus, rosemary, lavender, Olives, Pomegrantes and more can bring the Mediterranean to your - right here in Pinal County. Volunteers with the Superstition Mountain Master Gardeners program continue their Fall-Winter once-a-month Saturday series of seminars December 5 with this 11:00 am presentation. 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 - and free to our annual members, also free if you have an Arizona State Parks annual pass. Mark Your calendar for February 6 when the topic is "For The Birds," and then March 5 for "Going Native;" and April 2 is "Spice Up Your Life." For more information about our local Master Gardeners, their classes and volunteer work, call Carol at 602-438-4003 or email:

Sunday Arboretum History Walk December 6
10am; revisit this page for 2016 dates and times
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 on the first Sunday each month this Fall. Walks typically last about 90-minutes, departing at 10am from the Visitor Center breezeway. Correspond with Sylvia, or read more about BTA History

Behind-The-Scene’ Photo Class & Shoot With Sue Tatterson December 11, Friday
9am. Gold Canyon photographer Sue Tatterson strives to tell new stories with each subject captured in her lens. An Australian expat, she loves the giant eucalyptus trees and Drover's Wool Shed at Boyce Thompson Arboretum - and has photographed these familiar subjects in novel ways that evoke her original home in the land Down Under. Friday December 11 she'll teach a morning workshop from 9am-12pm with a focus on 'behind the scene' photography, which she describes as: "getting to a deeper and more artistic truth of your subject, for example - not just capturing that beautiful façade of your favorite old weathered building - but inviting the viewer to think about the age and origin of the structure - who built it, who may have lived or raised a family there. Its said that every picture tells a story; my take is that truly memorable photos will spark a conversation." $40; have a credit card ready and call 520-689-2723 to enroll.

Painting Workshops -- 'Beginners I' December 11 - 13
$225 - for 3-day workshops, with credit card ready, call 520.689.2723 to enroll
Learn intermediate / advanced fundamentals of painting with acrylics in two different levels of three-day workshops coached during afternoon hours from 1:00 - 4:30 PM. The second session, for experienced painters, will be Jan. 8-9-10, 2016
Read more about these classes with Gold Canyon Artist Sue Ann Dickey - her goal is to "take the pain out of painting" for beginners, and for anyone who was left frustrated by other painting or art classes, or has drifted away from painting and wants to try again."
What did class participants have to say following their workshops?
Here are quotes excerpted from appraisals: "it was relaxed and a friendly, non-stress atmosphere....our teacher, Sue Ann is very knowledgeable and's okay to experiment - the atmosphere was very supportive and affirming...there was ample time to work on our own with critique. I thoroughly enjoyed this class; Sue Ann's awareness of, and attention to, the varying skillsets and abilities of the participants - I'm already signed up for the next workshop. Read more about Gold Canyon artist Sue Ann Dickey

Edible - Medicinal Desert Plants Walk with Kathy & Tom McDonald December 12
** 1:30 pm Sunday walk -- repeats Sunday December 27 with David Morris as our guide
Explore our Curandero Trail on a one-hour Saturday walk guided by authors and desert plant enthusiasts Kathy & Tom McDonald, the owners of Smiling Dog Landscapes in Gold Canyon -- sharing anecdotes about prickly pear cacti, ratany, agaves, jojobas -- and explaining ways native plants have fed, healed and clothed Sonoran desert peoples for more than one thousand years. Ethno-botanist and Choctaw Tribal Nation member David Morris returns as guide Sunday December 27. ** 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

Fantastic Fungi Lecture December 19
Part III of a lecture series about mushrooms, Symbiotic Farm's Clinton White and Mike Montiel continue to explain the fascinating lifecycle of a cultivated mushroom -- from pitre dish to fruited mushroom. They will discuss different types of delicious gourmet mushrooms, nutritional value and growing conditions. If you have ever wondered about medicinal mushrooms and their beneficial health properties Clinton and Mike will be sharing their discoveries in research from around the world.

LightRoom 5 Users Group Sunday December 19
2:00 - 4:00 PM in the Smith Building Lecture Room
Photographers and digital photo editing enthusiasts 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 organizers and read more complete details on our Photo Class Page

Plants of the Bible Land Guided Walk Saturday December 19 at 1:30 pm
1:30 pm - repeats January 16 and February 20
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 December 20 , Sunday
at 1:30pm - again January 17, February 21
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.

Welcome Back Buzzards March 26, Saturday, from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 Vulture Viewing
8:30-10:00 Guided Bird Walk with ASU Professor Dave Pearson
9:00-1:00 Fallen Feathers Wildlife Rescue Living Exhibit of Raptors

March brings the Vernal Equinox, observed by cultures from the ancient Greeks to Aboriginal Australians; the Arboretum celebrates the transition of seasons with our annual Welcome Back Buzzards seasonal salute. Events are included with adult admission of $10; free to BTA annual members and AZ state parks pass-holders. Arrive early for the 7am special opening Saturday 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 the 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 Fallen Feathers Wildlife Rescue will have a popular living exhibit of raptors set up near the Smith Building, so kids and adults alike can have closeup views of a real, live Turkey Vulture along with other birds.
View a Bye Bye Buzzards Day event video by Arboretum Volunteer Mike Rolfe

Learn Your Lizards Guided Walks 2016
May-through-September guided tours
Reptile activity decreases with cool Fall and Winter temperatures - revisit this page next Spring to see dates for our once-a-month. See photos and read more This entertaining guided tour around the main trail isn't just for kids -- our unique Lizard Walks are 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 start time. Arrive early and explore - BTA opens at 6:00am during September. Guides include Casa Grande outdoor educator 'Wild Man Phil' Rakoci, Abi King from the AZ Game & Fish Department, and also Arizona Audubon's Steven Prager.
See photos and connect with Wild Man Phil on Facebook.

Dragonfly Walks 2016
Spring-Summer Saturdays at 8:30 AM
Dragonfly enthusiast and photographer Roger Racut guides our once-a-month odonate excursion -- an interpreted walking tour to Ayer Lake and garden water features -- a chance to learn about these beautiful, fascinating insect predators. Check out colorful photos and read more about Flame Skimmers, Blue Dashers and Mexican Amberwings at this excellent website launched by ASU Professor Pierre Deviche, another of our summertime dragonfly walk guides: http://azdragonfly.netBring your camera because Pierre safely nets a few dragonflies for visitors to view and photograph close-up, before releasing the insects unharmed

Spider Talk -- and Web Walk -- Saturday with Terry Stone
Saturday, May 30th, 10 a.m. in the Smith Building Lecture Room
Are you (or someone you know) just a wee-bit squeamish when it comes to the subject of spiders? If a spider is on your ceiling, do you contemplate burning down the house to get rid of it? Now is a good time to allay those fears and learn a few fascinating things about our eight-legged friends. Spider enthusiast and BTA writer/photographer T. Stone offers you a chance to familiarize yourself with the common local spiders and will help dispel any qualms you may have of them. Did you know that brown recluses don't exist in Arizona, but other, less venomous, members of the same spider family do? Did you know that black widows are exceedingly shy of humans? Did you know that we have such fascinating arachnids as spitting spiders and "wind scorpions." T. Stone will present a slide show, live specimens, and then walk you around a portion of the BTA to look at various webs and arachnids. No more need for that rolled up newspaper! Get rid of your arachnophobia with a little practical instruction and a few laughs in this informal talk. Free with general admission or membership. Kids are welcome to attend with their grown-ups, but this is not a talk designed for young children.

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

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

Members-Only Evening Access - Scorpion Walk And Astronomy DATE TBA
Hot SUMMER daytime temperatures drop at sunset; evening hours from 6:00-8:00 p.m. can be a sublime time to enjoy a picnic and walk around our gardens -- which is why we reserve special access on Summer nights for Arboretum annual members! June 13 brings our next evening of special after-hours-access; bring your own picnic for dinner in the shady picnic area from 6:30-7:30pm, followed by nighttime activities including a scorpion walk and astronomy. Bring your BTA membership card, and join us for an evening of special access including:
* gate reopens at 6:30 pm - bring-your-own dinner for an evening in our picnic area
* Scorpion Lecture 7:30-8:30 p.m.
* UV "Scorp Walk" 8:30-9:30
* Astronomy in the upper parking lot 9:30-10:00 p.m.