Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden, founded in 1937, is the largest botanical garden in the Southwest US. This Phoenix Point of Pride is home to over 50,000 plants, with 1/3 being native to the region and 100 being endangered species. Located within the city’s Papago Park, along with the Phoenix Zoo and Hole-in-the-Rock, the garden is over 140 acres large. Five different trails can be found throughout the garden, the main one being the Desert Discovery Loop Trail which leads you to the other four. As I live near Phoenix, my family and I recently decided to visit the garden, and I thought it’d be fun to write a post all about the Desert Botanical Garden, or the #2 attraction in Phoenix.

Starting off with some background info, the garden’s hours are 8am-8pm October through April, and 7am-8pm May through September. Tickets (click here to purchase them) cost $24.95USD for adults, $12.95USD for Youth (3-17), and are free for kids under 3 (and on the second Tuesday of every month!). The park is located at 1201 N. Gavin Parkway, in Phoenix’s Papago Park. Membership to the garden costs $139-268USD (click here for more info), and gives you free access to the garden 362 days of the year. When visiting the garden, it is important to remember to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. Pets and picnicking are not allowed in the garden.


Desert Discovery Loop Trail

The garden’s main trail is the Desert Discovery Loop Trail, as I mentioned earlier. This 1/3 mile long (.53km) trail leads into the four other paths, and is defined by its recognizable brick path. It features many of the garden’s oldest plants, along with its stunning cacti and succulent gardens (top right, bottom right and left), which display the many different types of cacti found throughout AZ.

On this trail you’ll also find the Heritage Garden, Desert Portal, and Desert Terrace Garden (top left, bottom right), where you can currently find part of the garden’s current Jun Kaneko exhibit (more on that later in this post!). The Berlin Agave Yucca Forest (top right), also found on the path, exhibits over 1000 agave and yucca plants.

Center For Desert Living Trail

The next trail, or the Center For Desert Living Trail, is all about how to successfully live in the desert by showing you how to grow your own food and use resources correctly. Here you will find the Herb Garden (POSITION) and the Edible Garden, where you will find many vegetables and plants growing. This 1/10 mile (.16km) trail is especially shady, making it a great place to rest before heading out onto the rest of the trails.

Desert Wildflower Loop Trail

Showing how wildflowers and birds and bugs interact, the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail is one of the garden’s most beautiful paths. There a ton of different gardens found on this 1/3 mile (.53km) path, including the Bee Garden, Shade Garden, Hummingbird Garden, Boulder Garden, and Butterfly Garden. The Desert Wildflower Loop Trail (POSITION) is also home to the garden’s seasonal Butterfly Pavilion, a huge domed building that’s interior is filled with hundreds of butterflies, from Monarchs to Buckeyes.

Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail

Next up is the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail, a trail teaching you about the people of the Sonoran Desert, a desert stretching through 2 US states, California and Arizona, and 3 Mexican States, Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur. These people have used the plants of this desert to their benefit in their history of over 12,000 years. There are many hands-on activities throughout this trail, one of them being making mesquite beans into flour.

Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail

With stunning views of the surrounding mountains and desert, the final trail in the Desert Botanical Garden is the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail. On this trail you’ll find the garden’s Organ Pipe Forest (top left), a forest of the Organ Pipe Cacti, a rare cactus family found only in parts of the US and Mexico.


Gerturdes, the main restaurant at the Desert Botanical Garden, is located near the garden’s entrance. The only other place serving food in the garden is the Patio Cafe, which is where we ate. If you’re planning on visiting the garden, I’d suggest either eating at Gerturdes or eating before or after visiting as the Patio Cafe wasn’t all that great.


The garden’s gift shop is fittingly named the Garden Shop, and it sells many southwest/desert themed gifts like clothes, posters, stationery, and many more unique souvenirs. Check out their site here if you’d like to see what they sell!


Jun Kaneko

Currently, the main exhibit at the garden is a sculpture collection by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. His world renowned sculptures can be found scattered throughout the garden, with most of them being found along the Desert Discovery Loop Trail. His collection is on display at the Desert Botanical Garden from October 13th, 2017, to May 13th, 2018.

That brings us to the end of my post about the botanical garden! I hope you enjoyed. If you read my last post you’d know that I was in Vegas last weekend; I have been working on some posts about my trip there and they should be going up next weekend so look out for that! Have you ever visited a botanical garden? If so, where was it? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. PW
    December 3, 2017

    The Desert Botanical Gardens is such a gem! I would suggest bringing snacks or lunch whenever you visit, since as you said, the cafe is nothing special and probably quite expensive for what you get. There are nice patio areas that you can go for lunch, plus you won’t eat junk food if you pack your own nutritious snacks!

    1. Hannah Travels
      December 10, 2017

      Good tip!


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