Please reserve your spot today. Overflow and First-Come, First-Serve camping opportunities may not be available.

Science

Geology

Lost Dutchman in 1978The Superstition Mountains are the product of many natural forces.

The Superstition Mountains are the result of intensive volcanic activity. They are composed of welded tuff (volcanic ash cemented under extreme heat), breccia (rock fragments cemented together with lava or welded turf), granite, dacite, basalt, and some conglomerate. A few gold deposits pocket the surrounding areas. Some 25 million years ago, during the mid-tertiary period, volcanoes in this region emitted about 2,500 cubic miles of ash and lava, the ash spreading as far south and northeast as present day Florence and Roosevelt Lake. The volcanoes collapsed into their partly emptied magma chambers, producing depressions or calderas. A subsequent up-thrust of thick lava within the largest of these calderas and the forces of erosion have created the Superstition formations that we see at the park today. Thick, alluvial fans spread outward from this eroding resurgent dome. The alluvial material is primarily tuff, dacite, and decomposed granite.

While hiking in the Superstitions, one can sometimes hear rumblings similar to rolling thunder. Geologists say this results from seismic activity resonated by the canyon walls. This could explain the origin of the Apache legend that these mountains are the home of the thunder gods.

Botany

Keep an eye out for commonly appearing flowering plants, cactus, and trees:

Flowering Plants
Aster
Brittlebush
Brodiaea; bluedicks
Broomrape
Buckwheat
Burroweed; haplopappus
Chia
Chuparosa; Hummingbird bush
Coyote melon
Creosote bush
Globemallow
Desert marigold
Desert senna
Desert tobacco
Euphorbia
Fairy duster
Fiddleneck
Filaree; heronbill
Fleabane
Goldeneye; California poppy
Hopbush
Jojoba
Lupine
Miner's lettuce
Milkweek
Mormon Tea
Muster; Sisymbrium
Ocotillo
Pestemon
Phacelia, wild heliotrope
Ratany
Skeleton weed
Snakeweed
Telegraph plant
White tackstem
Wolfberry - lycium
Woolly lotus

Cactus
Barrel
Buckhorn cholla
Chain fruit cholla
Hedgehog
Mammillaria - pincusion
Prickley pear
Saguaro
Teddy bear cholla

Trees
Catclaw - acacia
Ironwood
Mesquite
Palo Verde