Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park – May 12, 2018

I headed out of Phoenix early to visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park on Highway 60 just 3 miles outside of Superior, AZ. From Phoneix, it is a 67-mile drive…. an easy hour drive. With temperatures already reaching 90-100 degrees during mid-day I wanted to get there early when it was going to be cooler. Two years ago when I was in and around Phoneix in February the cacti were not in bloom, so now that I am in Phoenix for a while I wanted to be sure I got a chance to see them. I had heard and read about the arboretum and wanted to make a visit here and thought it would be a great opportunity to see and experience all kinds of different plant life and blooming cacti as well as a little trail hiking. Boyce Arboretum did not disappoint me.

Entrance fees are reasonable $12.50 for adults 13 or older, $5.00 for children 5-12 and children 4 and under are free. The arboretum hours from October to April are 8 am – 5 pm with no entry after 4 pm. May to September hours are 6 am to 3 pm with no entry after 2 pm.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona. It was founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility and “living museum” by William Boyce Thompson, a mining engineer who made his fortune in the mining industry. Boyce was fascinated with the landscape around Superior, so he built a winter home overlooking Queen Creek and beneath the towering volcanic remnant……Picketpost Mountain located in the Sonoran Desert on 323 acres.


Upon my arrival at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, you pay at the window just inside the doorway and given a map of the grounds. In this entrance area, you will find a gift store, the restrooms, as well as plants to buy. You are then free to wander the grounds how and where you want at your own leisure. I followed the 1.5-mile main loop which took me a couple of hours as I took some short side trails, checked out so many of the cactus and various plants and vegetation, took pictures, stopped to rest, relax and just enjoy.


Here are some things I saw on my trail walk……Flowers


Gila Monsters, Twisted trees, Ayer Lake, Eucalyptus Trees, Mountains, and Trails

The Clevenger House…….a stone and mortar building was home for a family of 5 in the early 1900s. Robert Clevenger and his family were homesteaders who made their living by truck farming along Queen Creek. They left this area in the early 1920s. This building was purchased along with the surrounding land by William Boyce Thompson. It was remodeled as a playhouse for his grandchildren. Today it is used for drying and displaying herbs as well as a cool respite from the summer heat.

By the time I had finished up the loop, it was getting midday and the temperatures were really starting to warm up. It was a great day, really enjoyed this place. Now off to Ray Mine.



Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix AZ

While in Phoenix I visited the Desert Botanical Garden, I thought the admission price was a bit steep, but once I was inside and started wandering around I realized how huge it was and I spent a good 4-5 hours there. The garden covers an area of 140 acres and 50,000 plus plant displays. It was started in the 1930s by a small group of local citizens who saw the need to conserve the beautiful desert environment. The garden officially opened in 1939 as a non-profit museum dedicated to the research, education, conservation, and display of desert plants.

I really enjoyed this place as it had a ton of Catci. I never realized how many different types of Cactus plants there were. There was so much to see, colors everywhere, easy trails and pathways to follow. The garden is sectioned out into different types of cacti and plants. For example there was a section called “Night Blooming” that had a variety of plants that bloom at night to attract night-time pollinators, there was a section on all kinds of different succulents, there were also sections that showed the natural history prior to and during the settlement of the area so you were able to see how the different trees and plants were used to build huts, corrals for their livestock. Plants that were used to eat, cook and heal with. There were places to sit, relax, and meditate in peace and quiet.

































Crater Range – Ajo AZ

January 24, 2016- Today we (Chris, Marsha and I) took a hike to Crater Range which is 10 miles north of Ajo, AZ. Access to this area requires a permit, so we had to go to the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge to fill out a form and watch a half-hour safety video to receive a permit and a combination to the gate. Before entering the gate we had to call in our names, permit number, gate number and approximately how long we would be in the area. Then once we left the area we again had to call and let them know we were leaving.

We took a 2-hour hike that was fairly easy and flat terrain between rock spires and volcanic upheavals (No these are not my words. I googled the description of Crater Range cause we all know you guys are not going to go and look it up, your all to busy with other stuff in life and I wanted you to know about this area and what you were looking at when you view my pictures, so bear with me through the next little paragraph okay!)

Crater Range is comprised of several miles of “Volcanic Up Heavals.” The geology of the area is generally irregular lava flows, layers of porous rock and volcanic sedimentary rock. It is not a “crater” at all but is the erosional remains of volcanic features. The ridges are remains of dikes that are more resistant to weathering than the porous rock surrounding them. Numerous sharp spires were volcanic channels for molten magma, like the dikes, weather more slowly.

The mixture of the changing colors from black volcanic rock to reds, browns, and beiges along with the many forms of plants and cacti made this a stunning, beautiful work of art.

January 18-25th Yuma to Why, AZ

I left Yuma, AZ January 18th and drove three hours east, then south to a place called Why, AZ with my friend Chris.

So are any of you wondering where in the heck is Why, AZ?

Welcome to why sign

Well so was I …..It’s a tiny, rural community in Southern Arizona that is 30 miles from Mexico and 121 miles from Tucson, AZ. Why was named for the Y-shaped junction of highway 85 and highway 86 south of Ajo. At the time of the naming, Arizona law required all city names to have at least 3 letters so the town’s founders named the town “Why” as opposed to simply calling it “Y”. Arizona Department of transportation later removed the old Y-intersection for traffic safety reasons and built the two highways into a conventional T-intersection south of the original intersection.

Why is located in the Sonoran Desert and the landscape is beautiful. This is where the beautiful and grand “Saguaro” cactus grows in abundance. The giant Saguaro Cactus can reach heights of 50 ft and take 200 years to grow. You will also find here the Prickly Pear, Cholla, Barrell Cactus, Ocotillo along with Creosote bushes. Mixed in with these are the unique Organ Pipe Cactus, mesquite & Palo Verde trees.

I am still traveling with my friend, Chris and the reason we came here is to see some friends of hers that she met while RVing in South Dakota. Marsha and Mel are the sweetest people and have had quite an interesting life. They spend their winters here in Why, AZ at the Coyote Howls Campground and their summers in Rapid City, South Dakota. So Coyote Howls Campground is where we are spending our week and this place is awesome. It is very remote and out in the middle of nowhere, but it has a special kind of feel to it.

Here is Marsha and my friend Chris


This is the view from Marsha and Mel’s campsite and the little yard they fixed up



I have to share some history with you about Coyote Howl Campground: Coyote Howl campground and RV park are in the heart of the Arizona Sonoran Desert surrounded by low mountains, desert vegetation, and wildlife such as quail, rabbits, coyotes, and burrows. Coyote Howl is a combination of two campgrounds: Coyote Howl East and Coyote Howl West – The East campground consists of nearly 208 acres with 600 “primitive camps” with no hookups. RV’s need to be self-contained. There are showers, restrooms, dump stations and some water faucets scattered throughout the campground. All you need is a generator or solar panels and your good to go. The west campground has 38 full hookup sites.

A couple named James and Peggy Kater moved to Why in 1949 and built a pub, a restaurant, a store and post office. Water was brought in from Ajo-ten miles away. As more people came to “Why” a well was developed and electricity brought in. During this time, many older people were coming and parking their trailers at what is now a highway rest stop. Many of these people hoped to stay in Why permanently, but the county health department was concerned about the sanitary conditions so they decided the campers had to go. So, some permanent residents of Why decided to apply to the BLM for 122 acres for a trailer court and campground. They were able to get a special permit from the health department if a park could be installed in 30 days.  Almost everyone pitched in and in 30 days, the park was ready. The park included roads, restrooms and hot water for showers.  A man named Virgil Denning provided the heavy machinery, others did the labor. The water lines were dug by the women and children. Those that were too old to do heavy labor cooked stew and chili beans for the workers.

Eventually, the people who came to cherish Why joined together to build a community center. The community center is busy during the winter season with many activities that appeal to everyone. During the summer season, many of the residents move out due to the high summer temperatures.

Here are some pictures of the campground and views:

This hillside picture here is the view from my RV


On our first day out we took the 10.4 mile Ajo scenic loop – Here are some pictures:

This one looked like a cow pile LOL


And yes this area is known for this type of activity!


And to finish off the day a beautiful, fiery sunset




Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Ajo AZ

Today, January 20, 2016, we (I, Chris and Marsha) took a drive to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Oh! my goodness, what a gorgeous place. We first stopped at the visitor center and watched a movie and listened to a park ranger talk to us about three different types of Cacti and some of the wildlife who live there. We then took a 20-mile scenic loop drive in the park and saw all this beauty that God has created.

This is a Saguaro Cactus-The Saguaro often gets its start under a nurse tree called Palo Verde. Temperatures, humidity and soil conditions are more favorable and constant under the Palo Verde tree. As the cactus matures, it competes with the nurse tree for moisture. Over time, the nurse tree weakens and dies from lack of water.


Prickly Pear Cactus


Creosote Bush


Jumping Cholla

As you can see this Cholla has branches going all over the place with these things hanging off them. This is a very spiny cactus with several irregular, jointed branches that are sharp-barbed spines that are painful and difficult to remove. Because these joints separate easily, it sometimes appears to “jump” to attack you.



Little bird on top of a Saguaro


My friend, Chris standing almost on top of the world


Sun setting-Perfect ending to a perfect day