Lost Dutchman State Park
“Thanks for a wonderful weekend. You hit a homerun with my family. My boys are still talking about the mountain biking and archery.” –Parent from Fall 2013 Session
Spring & Summer 2014 Arizona Family Campout Program is designed for families that have little or no experience camping. We hope to introduce you to the great experiences you can share with your family and inspire you to continue to explore the great outdoors! Take a one weekend introductory adventure at one of 9 Arizona State Parks. Learn more about the program and register.
Reserve a campground RV or tent site from the comfort of your home, anytime of day. Make online reservations Site reservations for this park are also available by calling the Reservation Center at (520) 586-2283. You can call 7 days a week, from 8 am to 5 pm MST. There is a $5 non-refundable reservation fee per site.
5 - 7:30 pm tasting and entertainment. 8 - 10 pm Dr. Sky show. Join us at Lost Dutchman SP for food from the Mining Camp Restaurant and just the right bold red or crisp white wine from Action Wine & Spirits, USA. Local musical entertainment, great prizes and raffle items, with Dr. Sky (Steve Kates) as Master of Ceremonies. Enjoy a sip of wine while Dr. Sky takes you on a "Walk Through the Skies," a breath-taking presentation and stroll through the stars. This event is hosted by the Friends of Lost Dutchman State Park, an affiliate of the AZ State Parks Foundation, all proceeds benefit the park and its programs. Couples Tickets: $75; Singles Tickets: $40; Minors (under 21) $15. For more information and to purchase tickets: www.pictureperfectpark2.eventbrite.com.
Wednesday, March 5: Guide for First-time Hikers in Sonoran Desert
9 am. This hike is an introduction to hiking in the Sonoran Desert. The hike starts on Treasure Loop Trail and converges to Jacob’s Crosscut Trail. The trail includes a small, steeper and rockier section followed by a smooth, well-maintained section giving hikers experience in both hiking terrains. The hike is 2.5 miles with a 50 foot elevation change. Plan for a 2 hour easy hike for beginning hikers. Meet at Cholla Day Use Parking. Led by volunteer hiking leader Barb.
Saturday, March 8: Ranger Led Hike
9 am. Ranger Diana leads a guided hike on Treasure Loop Trail, 2.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 500 feet. Rated moderate, the hike will last approximately 2 hours. Along the way you will learn about desert plants and animals and legends of the Superstition Mountains. Meet at the Cholla Day Use.
Introductory Park Video
About the Park
Named after the fabled lost gold mine, Lost Dutchman is located in the Sonoran Desert at an elevation of 2000 feet. The park is a short drive east of Phoenix. Photo taken March 3, 2010.
Named after the fabled lost gold mine, Lost Dutchman State Park is located in the Sonoran Desert, 40 miles east of Phoenix. Several trails lead from the park into the Superstition Wilderness and surrounding Tonto National Forest. Take a stroll along the Native Plant Trail or hike the challenging Siphon Draw Trail to the top of the Flatiron. Depending on the year’s rainfall, you might be treated to a carpet of desert wildflowers in the spring. Enjoy a weekend of camping and experience native wildlife including mule deer, coyote, javelina and jackrabbit.
The park offers a variety of hiking trails, nature trails, picnic facilities, 72 campsites, a dump station, restrooms, showers, and group use areas. The visitor center sells maps and other publications.
Before you hike, be prepared with enough water and proper footwear as the trails are steep and challenging.
Please join us for exciting interpretive ranger and volunteer naturalist guided hikes and family-oriented programs, weather permitting, at Lost Dutchman State Park. Fees for guided hikes and programs are included in the park entry fee of $7 per vehicle or with your annual pass. Reservations are not required unless specified in the program description. 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ. Park Phone 480-982-4485.
Friends of Lost Dutchman SP Volunteer Patricia Carter shares her story and explains about the New Adopt a Cactus program, which allows individuals and groups to adopt a Saguaro cactus to help to raise funds for the Friends Group's continuing efforts. Learn More.
Wednesday, March 12: Getting to know the birds around you
8:00 am. We’ll begin at Saguaro Day Use. After a brief discussion about where different birds hang out and why, we’ll be looking for resident birds such as Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, Curved-billed Thrashers, and Cactus Wrens. After birding around the parking area, we’ll walk the Discovery Interpretive Trail and continue toward the Siphon Draw Trail before returning by the same route, spotting as many birds as we can along the way. Bring binoculars, water to drink and protective footwear. Walk will last approximately 90 minutes, an easy 1 mile walk. No dogs, please. Led by volunteer birder Babs.
Thursday, March 13 and Friday March 14: Ranger Led Moonlight Hikes
7-9 p.m. Due to popular demand during our busy season, we are now offering two moonlight hikes per month. There is a limit of 100 hikers per night, so please call in advance to reserve your space: 480 982-4485. This is a guided 2.5 mile hike on Jacob’s Crosscut Trail at the base of the mysterious Superstition Mountains. Hikers should dress appropriately and wear trail shoes or boots. Please bring a flashlight in case of cloudy conditions (no headlamps, please).Some parts of the trail are rocky and uneven with occasional steep grades (elevation gain:120’).Participants should be in good health with no walking or night vision difficulties.Trail is not suitable for strollers or walkers. After the hike gather round the campfire for a marshmallow roast (marshmallows and sticks provided). All ages welcome. No pets, please. Parking in the Cholla Day Use Area.
Saturday, March 15: Birds of the Sonoran Desert
9 am. Join volunteer birder Vera for a morning of discovering the birds of the desert. Learn how to identify the birds in your backyard, the proper use of binoculars, and where to find birds in our area. Then take a guided walk through the desert to practice new skills. Bring binoculars if you have them, appropriate clothing, water and enthusiasm, but no dogs or small children please. Expect to have some surprises and fun! Meet at the Native Plant Trail parking area on the right before reaching the Ranger Station for orientation. Participants will then relocate to Cholla Parking Area.
Wednesday, March 19: Sunset Hike
5:30 pm. Following the Treasure Loop trail to Jacobs Cross Cut to intersect with Siphon Draw Trail will find hikers marveling at the mountain and the sky full of color, especially when there a few clouds. Elevation change is 102’ on very well maintained trails. Easy 2.5 mile hike. Meet at Saguaro picnic area. Led by volunteer hiking leader Nancy.
Friday, March 21: Star Talk
7:30 pm. Learn about the night sky, constellations and planets with local astronomer Bill Dellinges. Parking and seating at campground amphitheater.
Saturday, March 22: Ranger Led Hike
10 am. Ranger Diana leads a guided hike to the Praying Hands formation, 2.8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 800 feet. Rated more difficult, the hike will last approximately 3 hours. Along the way you will learn about desert plants and animals and legends of the Superstition Mountains. Bring at least 2 bottles of water and a hiking snack. A walking stick or trekking poles are recommended. Meet at the Cholla Day Use Area. Not for beginning hikers.
Wednesday, March 26: Geology Hike
9 am. Following the Treasure Loop Trail, Volunteer hiking Leader Jim will discuss the Superstition Mountain geology, the legends of gold and the lore of the Superstitions. This 2.5 + mile round trip with an elevation change of approx. 520’ is a moderate hike. Hikers should wear hiking shoes and carry ample water. Meet at Cholla Day Use.
Saturday, March 29: Wildman Phil and his friends
2 pm. Wildman Phil Rakoci brings his dragon-like lizards, huge scorpions that eat lizards and snakes, and other desert critters for this entertaining, informative and inter-active animal show for kids of all ages. Meet Phil at the Cholla Ramada, and bring a chair.
7 pm. Members of the "League" will provide telescopic views of astronomical objects and will answer questions about astronomy and astronomical equipment. In short, this is an opportunity to see the moon, planets, star clusters, galaxies and other astronomical phenomena using sophisticated telescopes and talk with very knowledgeable and experienced local astronomers! What will be in the sky tonight? Saguaro Day Use area. Learn about Star Parties, watch video, and see other park event dates.
Learn More About Apache Junction
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Lost Dutchman Legend
The Superstition Mountains (their name inspired by Pima Indian legends) have been a source of mystery and legend since early times. The area is dotted with ancient cliff dwellings and caves, many showing signs of former habitation. It is not certain who these people were; some believe they were Salado or Hohokam Indians who populated this part of Arizona several centuries ago. Later, Pimas and "Apaches" (some of whom may have been Yavapais) occupied parts of the region. However, the name "Apache" came to be closely associated with the Superstitions, and the mountains became an Apache stronghold in the 1800s.
During the 1840s the Peralta family of northern Mexico supposedly developed rich gold mine(s) in the Superstitions. Their last expedition to carry gold back to Mexico occured in 1848. According to legend, the large party was ambushed by Apaches, and all were killed except for one or two Peralta family members who escaped into Mexico. This area is known today as the Massacre Grounds.
A number of other people were supposed to have known the mine's location or even to have worked it. Numerous maps have surfaced over the years, only to become lost or misplaced when interested parties pressed for facts. Men who claimed to have found the Peralta mine were unable to return to it or some disaster occured before they could file a claim, all adding to the lore of a "lost mine."
In the 1870s Jacob Waltz, "the Dutchman" (actually a native of Germany) was said to have located the mine through the aid of a Peralta descendant. Waltz and his partner, Jacob Weiser worked the mine and allegedly hid one or more caches of gold in the Superstitions. Most stories place the gold in the vicinity of Weaver's Needle, a well known landmark. Weiser was killed by Apaches, or according to some, by Waltz himself.
In failing health, Jacob Waltz moved to Phoenix and died some twenty years later in 1891. He supposedly described the mine's location to Julia Thomas, a neighbor who took care of him prior to his death. Neither she nor dozens of other seekers in the years that followed were able to find the "Lost Dutchman's Mine." Subsequent searchers have sometimes met with foul play or even death, contributing to the superstition and legend that surround these mountains.
Many versions of the "Lost Dutchman Mine" story exist, and several books and films have been done on the subject.
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