The Best Arizona Gardens and Arboretums

If you’re anything like me, the idea of spending a day surrounded by nature’s greenery, beautiful blooms and the soothing sounds of rustling leaves is practically paradise.

And what better place to immerse yourself in this botanical bliss than a botanical garden?

Arizona has an incredible ecosystem. To better understand the desert a visit to one of the many gardens is a must. From the low desert to the high desert, Arizona has such a diverse landscape.

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Arizona Botanical Gardens

In Arizona you can walk through pine forests, a forest of Saguaro cactus, or tropical palm trees. See succulents, aloe, and desert wildflowers and tropical flowers like the Hibiscus.

Desert Botanical Garden

The most popular and well-known garden in Arizona is the Desert Botanical Garden. The Desert Botanical Garden is centrally located in Phoenix against the Papago Buttes. The botanical gardens is a true gem in Phoenix. You can learn a lot about desert life and gardening here.

arizona gardens

One of the most popular attractions in the Phoenix area, is the Desert Botanical Garden. The garden is in a beautiful setting-centrally located in Phoenix up against the Papago Buttes. It is a true gem in Phoenix, and you can learn a lot about desert life and gardening here.

The Botanical Gardens was created in 1939 and is one of the few Botanical Gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. You can either take a guided tour of the gardens or a self-guided tour.

Trails Within the Garden

  • Desert Wildflower Loop Trail and Butterfly Exhibits
  • Desert Discovery Loop Trail
  • Center for Desert Living Trail: Herb Garden
  • Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail
  • Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail
  • Agave Yucca Forest
  • Succulent and Cactus Houses

When you first enter the garden, you can choose to veer left or right. If you veer right, you will enter the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail and if you veer left, you will be led to the main trail, Desert Discovery.

Our favorite route is to wander down the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail first. The trail has a striking backdrop of the Papago buttes.  You can view the colorful desert wildflowers and learn the importance they play in Arizona’s ecosystem.  This trail is off the main trail, it is to the right of the entrance back behind the gift shop.

Desert Botanical Gardens Phoenix

Desert Discovery Trail’s brick path is the Garden’s main trail and is has the Botanical Garden’s oldest desert plantings.  From this path you can easily become sidetracked if you veer to your right, you will enter the Herb Garden, which is a garden of desert adapted herbs. If you stay on the 1/3-mile path it makes a loop.

Follow the main path to the next trail. The Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail is a .25-mile loop. You will have beautiful views of the Saguaro Cacti.

The trail after the Sonoran Desert loop is Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert. This trail is more interactive and one of the kids’ favorite trails, some great views from here as well.

After viewing this trail find your way back to the main brick path and the Succulent and Cactus houses this will bring you full circle to the beginning of the Desert Discovery Trail.

Seasonal exhibits

The Botanical Garden has many seasonal exhibits throughout the year. Our favorites include the Spring Butterfly Exhibit (March-May) and the Monarch Exhibit (September-November). The butterfly exhibit is located off of the Desert Wildflower Trail.

Tip: The Botanical Gardens are next to the Phoenix Zoo and Papago Park both excellent spots to visit on the same day.

Phone: 480-941-1225
Address:1201 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, AZ
Hours: Open seven days a week, year-round, except for major holidays. Hours vary by season.

Sahuaro Ranch Rose Garden

Glendale’s historic Sahuaro Ranch has a beautiful rose garden. In addition to viewing the gardens you can tour a few historic buildings.

rose garden arizona

Ro Ho En Japanese Friendship Garden

The Phoenix Japanese Friendship Garden Ro Ho En is a 3.5-acre garden with a large koi pond. It is a wonderful Zen-like retreat in the city. It is located adjacent to the Margaret T Hance Park, which is located on the top of Interstate 10. Once you enter the gates to the garden, you will forget that the city is just steps away.

arizona gardens

The entire garden is enclosed with lush trees and bamboo. Walking down the wide meandering paths, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the sculpture.

Continue walking to your right and you will cross the first bridge over the pond, here the Koi fish are very active. If you feed them, they will all gather here and are very entertaining to watch.

koi fish at arizona garden

The path winds around the pond and will lead to the first small waterfall.  Towards the back there is a Japanese Tea house with a beautiful stream and several small waterfalls. This was my favorite area of the gardens. It is very serene.

There are several small waterfalls throughout the park, and one large waterfall towards the back.

Phoenix Arizona Japanese Garden

Phone: (602) 256- 3204

Location: Margaret T Hance Park (above I-10 tunnel) in downtown Phoenix
Address:1125 N 3rd Ave Phoenix, AZ
Directions: Located at the Margaret T Hance Park on top of the I-10 Tunnel in downtown Phoenix
Hours: Closed in the Summer.

Rose Gardens at Mesa College

Visit the Rose Gardens at Mesa College to see over 2,000 rose buses in bloom.  They are maintained by the Mesa East Valley Rose Garden

rose gardens mesa college

Sonoran Desert Museum

The Sonoran Desert Museum is one of the top attractions in Tucson. It is like visiting three activities in one. The museum is a zoo, a botanical garden and a museum. This unique attraction gives you incredible opportunity to see the desert and the animals that reside here in their natural habitat.

desert blooms at sonoran desert museum

Tohono Chul Park

Tohono Chul Park is home to the largest public collection of the night blooming flower Cereus. Tucson’s secret garden has more than 500 species of cactus, succulents, shrubs and wildflowers. I found several hearts within the cacti garden.

Tohono Chul Park cacti heart

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Enter through an adobe home to see the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Be enchanted by the desert landscape. This 4.5-acre garden has desert plants, an herb garden, tropical greenhouse, wildflowers and a butterfly garden.

Tucson botanical gardens

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical gardens. At the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, you are invited to see nature at it’s finest here in the desert. Towering trees, cacti, sheer mountain cliffs, gardens, and a hidden pond.

Boyce Arboretum Arizona

The one-hour drive from Phoenix is a real treat at the peak of wildflower season. This is one of the best areas in Arizona to view wildflowers in the spring and fall colors in November.

Smith Interpretive Center, the original visitor center, was built in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historical places.  There are two greenhouses attached to the building and a beautiful area next to the building for having a picnic or enjoying the gardens.

Exhibits at the Arboretum include:

  • Hummingbird & Butterfly Garden
  • Demonstration Garden
  • Rose Garden
  • Children’s Horticultural Garden.There is an area where you can act as a human sundial, the kids enjoyed this part.
  • Chihuahuan Desert is a .27 mile trail that showcases desert plants
  • Australian Exhibit that takes you through a eucalyptus forest
  • Taylor Legume Garden
  • Cactus and Succulent Gardens
  • Herb Garden & historic Clevenger House
  • South American Exhibit
  • High Trail is a .45 mile trail through the Upper Sonoran Natural Area

Tip: Fill up your gas tank before heading out to Superior, there are no gas stations for many miles. There is one in Superior, Arizona. Visit to learn about pricing and hours of operation.

Address: 37615 East US Highway 60 Superior, AZ

Directions: Boyce Arboretum is 1 hour east of Phoenix on the Superstition Freeway. Drive towards Apache Junction, past Florence and continue on towards milepost #223.

Arboretum at Flagstaff

The Arboretum at Flagstaff  is 200 acres of over 2,500 species native to the high desert.

Arizona Gardening Resources