PARK HOURS UPDATE:
The park office is switching to its fall/winter schedule. Office hours are from 7am to 5pm daily. Trails are open from sunrise to 10pm.
Download January Event Program HERE (220 KB PDF)
January 5: Nature Hike
9am. Follow the Treasure Loop Trail and discover the area’s geology, history, and flora, along with legends and lore of the gold in the Superstitions. This is a moderate 2.5 mile round trip hike with an elevation change of approx 500 feet. Hikers should wear hiking shoes and carry ample water. Meet in the Cholla Day Use area.
January 8: Desert Medicinal and Edible Plant Walk
1pm. During this informative walk you will be introduced to edible/medicinal plants of the Sonoran Desert. Healing plants will be identified and discussed. This will be an easy one mile loop “stroll” beginning at Cholla Day Use Parking lot. Bring water, sunscreen, hat and proper hiking shoes as well as pencil and paper to take notes as we forage! Led by Ranger Erica.
January 10: Full Moon Hike (repeats Jan 11)
7pm. There is a limit of 100 hikers per hike per night, so please call in advance to reserve your space: 480 982-4485. Join us for 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. After the hike, gather around the campfire for a marshmallow roast (marshmallows and sticks provided). All ages are welcome, however the trail is NOT suitable for strollers or walkers. No pets, please. Parking is in the Cholla Day Use area.
January 11: Getting to Know the Birds Around You
9am. Meet in the Saguaro Day Use area for a brief discussion about how to tell one bird from another. Next, we’ll be looking for resident birds (from hawks to hummingbirds) and for any late migrants on their way south. After birding the Saguaro Day use area, we’ll look for birds as we walk up toward Jacob’s Crosscut Trail. We’ll make a short loop and return to the Saguaro Day Use lot, birding as we go. This is more of an “amble” than a hike as we let the birds come to us. Bring binoculars, water and wear sturdy trail shoes. No dogs, please. Led by volunteer “Birder Babs.”
January 17: Desert Medicinal and Edible Plant Walk
1pm. During this informative walk, you will be introduced to edible/medicinal plants of the Sonoran Desert. Healing plants will be identified and discussed. This is an easy one mile loop “stroll” beginning at amphitheater. Bring water, sunscreen, hat and proper hiking shoes as well as pencil and paper to take notes as we forage! Led by Ranger Erica
January 18: Exploring Siphon Draw Trail
9am. Join us at Siphon Draw Trailhead for a 4.2 round trip hike to the basin (slick rock waterfall area). Be ready to hike a steady uphill grade (1030 feet elevation change) on a rocky trail. Along the way we will pass some remnants of an unsuccessful mining attempt, identify strangely named rock formations and look at layers of rock from the volcanic explosion that make up this portion of the Superstition Mountain. Wear sturdy trail or hiking shoes, carry at least 2 bottles of water and bring a snack for a 3 hour moderately strenuous hike. Led by volunteer hiking leader Grady.
January 20: Star Talk
7:30pm. Learn about the night sky, constellations and planets with local astronomer Bill Dellinges. Parking and seating at the campground amphitheater.
January 25: Sunset Hike
4:30pm. Hike the Treasure Loop trail to Jacobs Cross Cut and Siphon Draw Trails. This easy 2 hour hike offers amazing photo ops of a spectacular Arizona sunset over the glorious Superstition Mountain. Hikers will marvel at the mountain and the sky full of color, especially when there are a few clouds. A photographer’s delight! Elevation change is about 120 ft. on well maintained trails. Wear hiking shoes and carry water. Bring a flashlight for return to parking lot. Meet at Saguaro Day Use area. Led by volunteer hiking leader Barbara.
January 26: Bird Walk
8am. Join volunteer “Birder Vera” for a morning of discovering the birds of the desert. Learn how to identify the birds in your back yard, the proper use of binoculars, where to find birds in our area and 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.
January 28: Music AND Star Party
5:30pm. Enjoy new world music, inspired by nature with guitarist Russell Hyngez and some very special electronic sounds! The musical program will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Palo Verde Ramada. After the program, attendees will walk a well lit path to the Star Party at Saguaro Day Use area. The Star Party begins at 6:30 pm and runs through 8:30 pm. Members of the Superstition Astronomical League will provide telescopic views of the night sky and 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 a sophisticated telescope. Talk with very knowledgeable and experienced local astronomers! What will be in the sky tonight?
January 29: Coffee with a Ranger and Edible Desert Tasting
11am. Meet rangers Jacque and Erica as they guide you through a coffee tasting and a table-top presentation on the amazing edible desert. A few samples of baked goods using desert edible plants will be provided. Meet at the Palo Verde Ramada.
Arizona deserts are a beautiful place to explore and enjoy our outdoor spaces, but please Hike Smart. Bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, appropriate footwear & hike with friends or family members to help you enjoy the experience. Bringing your smartphone and snacks is also a great idea, in case you happen to get off-trail or are delayed. If you're new to hiking in the Sonoran Desert be sure to ask a Park Ranger for advice on where and when it's best to hike in each Park. Thank you and have a great hike!
At the park, ask for a full Junior Ranger booklet at the Visitor Center, Ranger Station or office. Complete the activities during your visit and then bring it to a Park Ranger for review. When a Park Ranger approves, kids can then take the Junior Ranger Pledge and get sworn in as our newest Junior Ranger. They'll also receive a Junior Ranger Button.
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.
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.A four mile Mountain Bike Loop Trail has opened at the park -- this is a great way to enjoy the park's beauty!
The park offers a variety of hiking trails, nature trails, picnic facilities, 134 campsites, a dump station, restrooms, showers, and group use areas. The visitor center sells maps, souvenirs, water & snacks.
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.
Learn More About Apache Junction
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.
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge