An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is not the most wheelchair accessible state park in Arizona, but that aside, it is a really interesting place. Having lived in Arizona most of my life, I am use to seeing a lot of desert, but here is like a tiny oasis with pine trees and palm trees growing right next to cactus and fruit trees. Adding to it, is the sheer rock cliffs surrounding the park and the little lake and stream running through it. It gets high marks because it is dog friendly too.

If you have a power chair or a good Sherpa (ie friend who can push), then you will be able to get to 99% of the park. The trails are wide and well kept. There are places where the trail is quite steep, but in late February with the temperature around 70, the pushing wasn’t bad. The park has a great layout and you can easily spend 4 hours rolling about. There is a really elaborate suspension bridge across the creek that is fun. We didn’t head up the far side but my hunch is that its not chair friendly.

Here’s the bummer. As you get towards the far end of the main trail, you are cruising right along the side of the creek. The trail reaches a jagged rock cropping and gets narrow. Too narrow. I tried it and got stuck. Some beach! So you have to head back and go around the other way to see the lake and the rest of the park but it is not all that bad. I can’t believe they cant get some Boy Scouts or someone to come in with some blasting caps and make the trail 6 inches wider.

The Arboretum was founded in the 1920s by mining magnate Col. William Boyce Thompson. The park encompasses 323 acres, and has some shopping, a snack bar and plenty of shade. The Arizona State Parks Board entered into agreement with the Boyce Thompson Arboretum Board and the University of Arizona in 1976 to cooperatively manage the Arboretum, and they are doing a good job.

The park is due east out of Phoenix on Highway 60, near Superior. It is about an hour from the east valley.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

One final comment: If you even sorta like photography, this place is an all day stay.  Enjoy!

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5 Responses »

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  2. Great blog! We’re a couple of outdoorsy types, one of whom is recovering from a spinal cord injury. We do a lot of cycling, because Robb can use a recumbent trike, which he finds easier on his back than his wheelchair.

    You can find us over at


  1. Merkle Trail in Mesa Arizona Offers Good Wheelchair Access | Accessing Arizona

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What Acessing Arizona Is All About

Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
If you are traveling to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, the site offers insight about the accessibility. We cover trails, lakes, state parks, national parks and just about anything claiming to be handicapped accessible. The site also covers sports and recreation in Arizona.
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