Boyce Thompson Arboretum walkers in yucca forest. (Photo ©DogCatMouseMedia)
Tucson to Superior on a tank of gas
From Tucson, Boyce Thompson is 94 miles northeast. We decided to stay off Interstate 10 for a more chill and scenic vibe and instead take AZ Route 77 to 79 to 60 to our destination. We jumped in our car and filled the tank ready for an exciting day trip.
It was a relaxed drive and we enjoyed viewing long stretches of untouched desert. It was interesting to watch the desert landscape change as we approached Superior as it went from the floor of the low desert up through the mountains of Tonto National Forest. On entering BTA, a dramatic scene presented itself as the craggy Picketpost Mountain jutted out from behind the park.
The setting itself reinforces BTA as a world-class arboretum. All told there are 135 acres of gardens in the park, expertly designed into gardens showcasing various desert flora from around the world.
With a hefty desert plant wish list for our own garden, we were ready to head into downtown Superior for lunch and exploring! We drove up through Main Street which is majestically hugged by rugged mountains. The mountains bestow a peaceful presence upon visitors. In fact, Superior doesn’t look so much as it was built into the mountains as it was born from the mountains. Driving into downtown for the first time, one senses a return to a simpler time; a homecoming of sorts. Superior is small, but offers visitors plenty of shopping and dining in a quaint setting.
The small businesses here are unique and emanate a lot of pride. While holding on to its nostalgic charm, downtown Superior seems to have been reborn with new vibrant businesses. We found shopkeepers and their employees friendly, welcoming and engaging. The town had a mix of locals and travelers wandering the streets. Sun-splashed and warm during our visit, Superior offers clothing boutiques, art galleries, well-stocked antique shops, a cute coffee joint, and opportunities for local wine enthusiasts to list a few.
Leaving Superior, we headed south on 177, farther up into the mountains on what can only be described as breathtaking. This route is spectacular in beauty, as you drive through high desert landscapes until reaching a mountain pass with the most amazing vistas. As we entered back into the city limits of Tucson, we were greeted with the busy rush of traffic, heads full of special memories and inspiration from our fruitful journey and lo and behold, a quarter tank of gas!
Prepared by daytrippers and plant enthusiasts Matt and Bridget.