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Located just outside of Union, the Boone County Arboretum is a type of botanical garden that offers 121 acres of trees and woody shrubs. The arboretum also became the first of its kind to offer athletic fields within a living history environment with facilities connected by a 2+ mile winding multi-use trail. Boone County Arboretum is Northern Kentucky's premier arboretum and works to enrich the quality of life of residents and visitors by providing a place for the appreciation and study of plants and the preservation of the natural environment.


  • Arboretum information kiosk. Credit: BCA
  • One of the walking trails offered at Central Park. Credit: BCA
  • Another one of the trails offered at Central Park. Credit: BCA
  • Entrance sign to the park.

Encompassing 121 acres, the Boone County Arboretum is also known as Central Park, and was the nation’s first arboretum within an active recreation park setting and opened in the spring of 1994. The 3,600 trees and shrubs can be seen year-round.

Boone County Arboretum was dedicated May 2, 1999. It was the first public arboretum in the nation to have the entire plant collection mapped with global positioning technology. Plant maintenance was originally contracted out to a local landscape company, and record keeping was also contracted to another company. The first published Collections Map (in 2001) indicated the location of 2,300 trees and shrubs. Now there is a team of full-time and seasonal staff dedicated to caring for the more than 3,600 living plants and maintaining the collection records.

During a long-range planning session in 1996, the Boone County Horticultural Advisory Council and UK Cooperative Extension Agents saw the need to document and preserve Boone County’s natural resources and a need to create a place dedicated to growing and studying the trees and shrubs of landscape horticulture; a place that could be enjoyed by schools, community groups, garden clubs, as well as private citizens as they found out which landscape trees and shrubs grow well in our local climate. Mr. Richard Ammon of Ammon Landscape drew the initial planting design, and seven local nurseries came together with hundreds of volunteers to complete the project.

An arboretum is a type of botanical garden focusing on trees and woody shrubs. These living museums support the local biodiversity in an effort to preserve a sustainable environment. They provide educational opportunities through hands-on learning, classroom instruction, or simply observing “what works”. Reflecting the horticulture and history of the area, an arboretum strengthens the regional economy and increases the quality of life for local residents and visitors. To insure plants thrive in even the worst of conditions, a 41,000-linear-foot computerized irrigation system was installed.

Park amenities include two large shelters to reserve (each has electricity, water fountain & grill), four lighted tennis courts, six lighted baseball/softball field, the arboretum, basketball courts, two concession/restroom buildings, a playground, soccer fields and 2.35 miles worth of paved walking/hiking trails. Throughout the year they offer various classes and programs for all age groups. In addition, many of the Boone County Extension horticulture classes are taught at the Arboretum.

One of the trails, Born Learning Trail, was put together by United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Boone County Success by Six and the Boone County Fiscal Court as they partnered in launching this interactive trail as a way to help parents find fun learning moments at the neighborhood park. Young children can learn about the A–B–Cs, shapes and animals by walking along this trail in Central Park.

Boone County Arboretum. Facebook. . Accessed March 12, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/pg/BCArboretum/about/?ref=page_internal. 

Central Park Arboretum. Boone County, Kentucky. . Accessed March 12, 2018. https://www.boonecountyky.org/departments/parks/central_park_and_arboretum.aspx. 

Learn About Us. Boone County Arboretum. Accessed February 28, 2018. https://bcarboretum.org/about-us.