Everywhere you look, the American Southwest is teeming with geological wonders. But in the Superstition Mountains, located just beyond Gold Canyon RV and Golf Resort in Apache Junction, Arizona, you also get legends, lore and mystique. Every year, gold- and thrill-seeking enthusiasts set off in the vast Superstition Mountain range to find the famous Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Thousands of people make the journey every year, some have died, and none have found the mine.
But that’s not all the Superstition Mountains have to offer. Located inside Tonto National Forest, there’s also a treasure trove of sweeping vistas. Including unique fauna and flora (Saguaro cacti, anyone?), and ample opportunities to stretch your legs (and summit a mountain or two). Here are our picks for the best things to do in the Superstition Mountains:
Superstition Mountain Museum:
Located just outside the mountain range in Apache Junction, Arizona, the Superstition Mountain Museum makes a great first stop to learn more about the history of the area. Discover the origin of the “Superstition” name and what wonders you want to hit once inside. You can also take a stroll through the set of a Western movie at the museum’s Apacheland Barn, Elvis Chapel, gold mill, mountain man camp and Western storefronts.
Lost Dutchman’s State Park:
Essentially the gateway to the Superstition Mountains, Lost Dutchman’s State Park is located right along Route 88. Trails range from easy to difficult, but all offer amazing views, so good shoes, lots of water and a camera are a must. If you’re up for a challenge, hike the Siphon Draw trail to the Flatiron Summit. It’s a popular one, so avoid this trail on the weekends, if possible, and definitely after a rain storm (as these rocks get slick).
Once inside the Superstition Wilderness Area, part of Tonto National Forest, you’ll find hiking, biking and horseback riding trails . All covering hundreds of miles of varied terrain, from the Sonoran desert lowlands to higher-elevation alpine forests. There’s something for every level of fitness, from easy and flat to difficult and, well, vertical. No matter where you venture, the vistas will be spectacular. Whatever hike you do, make sure it includes a view of Weavers Needle. A 1,000-foot-high column of rock that figures prominently in the purported location of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. As a tip to those who plan to tackle this, good shoes and plenty of water are a must. The weather can vary widely inside the Superstition Mountains, and can change at a moment’s notice, so don’t take preparations—even for a day hike—lightly.
Apache Trail Scenic Drive:
If taking in views from the comfort of your vehicle is more your speed, you’re in luck. The Apache Trail Scenic Drive is a 120-mile loop through the Superstition Mountains and surrounding Tonto National Forest. Parts of it were originally used thousands of years ago by the Apache Indians. More recently, it was a wagon route during the construction of the Roosevelt Dam. Today, most of the route is paved, but there are still some steep cliff drops along the way. Leave the RV at the park and bring a car or small SUV to get the most out of this ride.