Things to know: Desert Botanical Garden

When you grow up in the rolling hills of Kentucky you don’t see a lot of cactus growing in the wild.  In fact, the only cacti you see are special exhibits or individual planters on someone’s desk or in their kitchen.  On a recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona, I discovered an amazing place where you can enjoy every variety of cactus and succulents in the beautiful Desert Botanical Gardens. If you are planning a trip to Phoenix, then here are some things you should know!

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Things to know:  Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is located just minutes from the Phoenix Zoo and sits on 140 acres. With over 50,000 desert plants nestled amid the red rocks of the Papago Buttes at Desert Botanical Garden, you can explore five trails to explore plants, including towering cactus, alluring succulents, and brilliant desert wildflowers.

Wild Rising Art Exhibition

Whether you are visiting the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus or the US Botanical Garden in Washington DC, there are often special exhibits or displays. 

Available through May 2020, Desert Botanical Garden’s newest art exhibition is more than 1,000 animal sculptures made from colorful and recyclable plastic. Wild Rising is included in the cost of general admission and membership.

The animals are the creations of Cracking Art, who specialize in plastic with the intention of changing the history of art and address global and local sustainability and conservation issues, including climate change, plastic in the oceans and the importance of recycling.

With 12 installations, you will see 20 penguins posing among the cactus and 40 majestic grey wolves guarding the Sybil B. Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries as well as rabbits, snails, and frogs.

Things to Know:

  • The Gardens is handicapped accessible and stroller friendly.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will do a lot of walking to see the whole grounds.
  • Keep your ticket band on your wrist for easy in and out access.
  • The Garden hosts Community Day the second Tuesday of every month, where admission is complimentary. Parking is limited and does reach capacity. 
  • Wear Sunscreen and Sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes. I always have sunglasses on when I am out in the sun because I want to protect my eyes from the harsh glare of the sun rays. These sunglasses are from SmartBuyGlasses where you can choose the fit and comfort level that works best for you!

Local tip:  Go to the Botanical Garden early in the afternoon and then slip out for an amazing view of the sunset from the nearby Hole in the Rock just minutes away.  Then come back and finish your tour of the Botanical Garden after dark.  

Check closing times throughout the season to make sure you plan it perfect!

Appreciate the cactus but don’t touch.

You would think that most people would instinctively know to keep their hands off the cacti, but just in case, here’s your reminder.  Not only are they sharp and can cause pain, but the cactus family is also endangered.


Hike to the top of this trail for a great view of the mountains that surround Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix.


The Garden has more than 25,000 plants that represent more than 4,200 taxa in more than 100 plant families. It boasts many varieties of cactus, agaves, aloes and other flora of the Sonoran Desert and deserts of the world.

Living Collection

Find the Desert Botanical Garden


Visit the Hole in the Rock for an amazing view of the surrounding area and a perfect place to enjoy the sunset!

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