Butterflies, Cacti & Desert Flowers, The Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden

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Let’s go check out the garden. Not a phrase you expect to hear when you are visiting the desert, but the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is more than just a garden it is a wonderland of exploration that includes hundreds of Cacti, a myriad of desert flowers and butterflies. Oh, the Butterflies. We often think of the desert as being void of life when in fact it teems with life and a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens is a great place to learn all about it. I wasn’t into gardens of any sort when I was younger, however, I rush to visit them and the botanical gardens in Phoenix are no exception. The only difference in my visit to these gardens is I made sure to pack a full water bottle so I don’t dehydrate. Let’s begin the tour.

Up close to a butterfly

Stop #1 is the admissions desk. Not just a place to pay for your entry to the Desert Botanical Gardens, it is also where you can pick up your map of the 140-acre property.

Desert Botanic Garden membership and admission desk

Over 55 acres are “under plant” so that is a whole lot of garden to explore. There are five trails designed to showcase the gardens with each trail having a different focus or theme. It doesn’t matter which one you start with because they are all worth walking.

Desert Botanical Garden trail map

I’d like to break down my exploration into three categories. In no particular order…

Butterflies There is a butterfly pavilion that houses a variety of colourful North American varieties.

Welcome to the Butterfly pavilion

A walk through the pavilion is quite magical. Everywhere you look a beautiful and colourful butterfly dances on the air.

Up close to a butterfly

Beautifully vibrant butterfly

Another butterfly

A Monarch Butterfly

If you are lucky enough one may land on your shoulder or fingertip.

Butterfly taking a break on a shoulder

Of course, if you visit the Desert Botanical Garden in August and September chances are good you will see plenty in the open air.

Butterflies are best seen wild at the gardens in August & September

Cacti I can’t count how many different Cacti species I saw during my wanderings. From a giant Cardon cactus planted when the gardens were first created to a look but don’t touch Teddy Bear Cactus (aka Cylindropuntia bigelovii).

One of the original planting at the Garden this Cardon Cactus is over 75 years old

Look but don't touch the Cactus

Aside from a sea of Cacti, you will also find Agave and other desert flora.

A sea of Cacti

A massive Agave plant

Desert Flowers My visit timing is perhaps not the best for a full bloom of desert flowers to be out but I still catch some glimpses of colour and can only imagine what it is like when the cacti and plants are in full splendour. Dull green, sandy browns and then a pop of bright red or yellow. Their beauty is that much more when appreciated in the context of the desert landscape.

A desert flower in bloom at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

I have only scratched the surface of what you can experience at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. For a complete listing of events happening in the garden make sure to check out their Events page. Of particular interest is a tequila-based event called Agave on the Rocks. Hmmm, tequila.

Check out more of my Arizona adventures including an early morning hot air balloon ride here.

Hot air balloon surfs the mountain side

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Visit Phoenix for hosting and supporting this travel adventure. My views and opinions are 100% my own.


About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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