At Optima®, we believe in fostering a sense of community and encouraging our residents to explore the rich natural beauty that surrounds them. One of the hidden gems in the Scottsdale area that perfectly aligns with our values of wellness, sustainability, and lifelong learning is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona — an hour’s drive from Scottsdale. This expansive botanical garden, an unrivaled  sanctuary of biodiversity,  offers a serene retreat and a wealth of opportunities for discovery within an hour’s drive from Optima®’s communities.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BYA) is Arizona’s largest and oldest botanical garden. Established in 1924 by mining magnate William Boyce Thompson, the arboretum spans over 300 acres of breathtaking landscapes. Visitors can explore a myriad of plant species from deserts around the world, organized in thematic gardens that highlight the diversity and adaptability of desert flora.

Purple Hedgehog bloom. Credit: ksblack99 on Flickr Creative Commons, public domain.

For Optima® residents, a visit to the arboretum is a chance to revel  in nature’s splendor. The Desert Legume Garden, Cactus Garden, and South American and African collections offer unique insights into the plant life that thrives in some of the world’s harshest environments. The arboretum’s commitment to conservation and education makes it a perfect destination for those who appreciate the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Credit: davidpinter on Wikimedia Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Engaging Programs and Scenic Beauty
BYA’s educational programs are a cornerstone of its mission to inspire and inform. It offers a variety of guided tours, workshops, and classes that cater to all age groups and interests. For families, the Children’s Adventure Garden is a delightful space where kids can learn about nature through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities.

For the more curious minds, the arboretum’s guided tours provide in-depth knowledge about the plant collections and the history of the garden. Optima® residents who enjoy continuous learning will find these programs enriching and stimulating, offering new perspectives on botany and ecology.

One of the most captivating features of BYA  is its network of hiking trails. These trails meander through varied landscapes, offering stunning views and intimate encounters with nature. The Main Trail, High Trail, and the more challenging Chihuahuan Trail each provide unique experiences, from shaded riparian areas to panoramic desert vistas.

For those seeking tranquility, the trails are a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The beauty of the arboretum’s diverse plant life combined with the peacefulness of the surroundings creates an ideal setting for reflection and relaxation. It’s an invitation to slow down, breathe deeply, and reconnect with nature.

A Haven Birdwatchers and Artists

BYA is also a haven for bird enthusiasts or those who simply enjoy observing wildlife. Its diverse habitats attract a wide variety of bird species, making it one of the top birding spots in Arizona, offering endless delight in spotting different species, from colorful hummingbirds to majestic raptors.

Nature’s beauty at the arboretum also makes it a favorite destination for artists and photographers. The ever-changing landscapes and seasonal blooms provide a constant source of inspiration. Whether you’re an amateur photographer capturing the vibrant colors of wildflowers or a seasoned artist drawing the intricate patterns of cacti, the arboretum offers countless opportunities to express your creativity.As a community hub, the arboretum hosts a variety of events that bring people together to celebrate nature and culture. From plant sales and seasonal festivals to art exhibits and musical performances, there’s always something happening that fosters a sense of community and shared experience. It is truly a treasure trove of natural wonders and educational opportunities — a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the desert, learn about the intricate web of life that sustains our planet, and find inspiration in the diversity and resilience of nature. It’s a visit that promises to enrich your mind, soothe your soul, and deepen your connection to the natural world.

For details about visiting BYA and its programming, see their website here.