Not far from the city lies a garden where all of the beauty of the desert comes to life.
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Papago Park, just 13 kilometres east of downtown Phoenix, and is open late so that visitors can watch the desert come to life at night. Waiting for nocturnal animals to venture out is not the only thing that beckons visitors to sit and enjoy the breathtaking Arizona sunset: the Desert Botanical Garden is home to night-blooming flowers as well. The gardens are always beautiful, regardless of the time of day you choose to visit.
And if you’re visiting in December, don’t miss the popular after-dark spectacle called ‘Las Noches de las Luminarias’. You’ll need to book in advance, as it sells out quickly. A garden softly lit by thousands of glowing luminaria bags and twinkling lights, complete with live music, it is perfect for a romantic evening.
A group of like-minded local citizens established the garden in 1939 to showcase the diverse ecology of the Sonoran Desert. It began as a non-profit museum dedicated to research, education, and conservation. Without having to venture too far from the city, visitors and locals can both enjoy the biodiversity of the desert. Here you will find cacti, trees, flowers, succulents, butterflies, and other local creatures, proving that even the driest of deserts is not devoid of life. In fact, there are over 50,000 plants and animals here, and a seasonal butterfly exhibit delights adults and children alike.
Enjoy a walk on one of five scenic trails or join up with a tour. The Desert Botanical Gardens also has exhibits that show how plants have adapted to life in a barren area. Step inside a traditional Western Apache house—a domed structure of split yucca leaves thatched with cottonwood and willow branches—or learn how to use the desert plant life for food, medicine, and shelter on the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Loop.
For those who are unfamiliar with the flora and fauna of the southwest, the Desert Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to start. It is open daily, so come breathe in the sweet air and enjoy a sunny afternoon or a starry night in a little piece of desert paradise.