Lost Dutchman State Park: The Complete Guide

Teddy Bear Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) at Sunset
Brent Durand / Getty Images
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Lost Dutchman State Park

Address
6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119, USA
Phone +1 480-982-4485

Located on the edge of the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area, Lost Dutchman State Park honors a miner who actually wasn’t lost at all—his gold mine is. Legend has it, Jacob Waltz found the remains of a Spanish mine here in the 1870s and would bring bags of gold into Phoenix after each visit. Before revealing its location, he died, leaving only a handful of cryptic clues behind.

Although treasure hunters still comb the wilderness looking for the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine, most visitors come to hike or mountain bike the park’s trails, camp at the base of the Superstition Mountains and photograph wildflowers in the spring. It’s also a popular stop along the Apache Trail, one of the most scenic drives in the state. Often visitors combine an easy hike at Lost Dutchman State Park with a drive on the Apache Trail or a visit to the nearby Ghostfield Ghost Town or Superstition Mountain Museum.

Superstition Mountains
Matt Dirksen / Getty Images

Things to Do

Hiking is the most popular activity in Lost Dutchman State Park, although you can mountain bike on most of the trails as well. Start at the visitor center to learn more about the Sonoran Desert’s flora and fauna before hitting the trails. You may also want to check the park’s calendar as a variety of programming and events are held here, such as sunset and moonlit hikes and scorpion “hunting” with a black light.

Lost Dutchman State Park is a park that promotes earthcaching. Similar to geocaching, where you use GPS to locate objects hidden by other participants, earthcaching directs you to points on the trails where you can listen to interesting stories about the park or learn more about the natural landscape. To play along, download the earthcaching packet, choose a mapping app like What3Words on your phone, and follow the directions.

Many visitors combine a stop at Lost Dutchman State Park with a visit to Superstition Mountain Museum or Goldfield Ghost Town, a reconstructed 1890s mining town, or they hike in the park before continuing a drive on the scenic Apache Trail.

Trail Superstition Mountains
Cheri Alguire / Getty Images

Best Hikes & Trails

The park has six hiking trails ranging from the easy, paved Native Plant Trail to the extremely challenging Flatiron, an extension of the Siphon Draw Trail. Wear sturdy shoes—no sandals or flipflops—and slather on the sunscreen before setting out on any of the hikes. You’ll also need at least one liter of water per person per hour. (Snacks are recommended for the longer hikes, like the Flatiron.) The park’s trails are open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Native Plant Trail: This .25-mile, accessible trail begins near the visitor center and features plants native to the Sonoran Desert. Ask for the native plant trail guide at the ranger station for descriptions of the plants you’ll see along the way.
  • Treasure Loop Trail: Rated moderate, this 2.4-mile, heavily-trafficked trail offers spectacular views of the Phoenix metro area as well as wildflowers March through early May. It has a 500-foot elevation gain.
  • Siphon Draw Trail: For a challenge, take this 4-mile roundtrip trek through Siphon Draw, a canyon that acts as a siphon, funneling water through its passage when it rains. Be careful about hiking this trail, even during a light rain.
  • Flatiron: This hike follows an unmaintained route to the mountain’s flat top. Allow at least five hours to make the 5.8-mile, roundtrip journey, and be prepared to scramble. Only physically fit, experienced hikers should attempt this hike.
Superstition Mountains flowers
 ScottJantzen / Getty Images

Scenic Drives

While there are no scenic drives within the park, you’ll pass Lost Dutchman State Park on one of the most scenic drives in the state, the Apache Trail. To explore the Apache Trail, take U.S. 60 east to Exit 30A for State Route 88/S. Idaho Road. Drive 2.5 miles to the Apache Trail, and turn right.

Before you get to the entrance of the park, make a stop at Superstition Mountain Museum to learn more about the Jacob Waltz, his gold mine, local history, and the Sonoran Desert. Or, book a 4x4 or horseback tour of the park and beyond at Goldfield Ghost Town, across the street from the park.

The Apache Trail winds past Canyon Lake and on to Tortilla Flat, once a stop for the stagecoach that ran between Globe and Phoenix. You can have lunch or ice cream at the restaurant there before returning the way you can. (Floods damaged the road just north of Tortilla Flat.)

Where to Camp

The park operates a 138-site campground within its boundaries. Roughly half of the sites have water and electric (50/30/20 amp service) hook-ups, but every site has a picnic table and a fire pit. Leashed pets are welcome, and there are no size restrictions on RVs.

In addition to the campground, the park manages five cabins at the base of the Superstition Mountains. Each cabin has a queen-sized bed, two sets of bunk beds, table and chairs, ceiling fan with overhead light, electricity, heating, and air-conditioning. Although the cabins do not have indoor plumbing, restrooms and showers are a short walk away.

You can make reservations for both the campground and cabins online through the park’s website or by calling 1-877-MY PARKS.

View from the Flatiron
 AutumnSkyPhotography / Getty Images

Where to Stay

You can stay just about anywhere in the Valley and drive to Lost Dutchman State Park in an hour or less. To book a room at a boutique hotel or resort stay, look for accommodations in downtown Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale. Otherwise, you can find chain hotels throughout the Valley.

  • Residence Inn by Marriott Phoenix Mesa East: Located off U.S. 60 at South Crismon Road, this chain hotel has studio, one-and two-bedroom suites with separate living and sleeping areas, plus a fully equipped kitchen. From the hotel, it’s just a 20-minute drive to the park’s entrance, making it one of the closest properties to the park.
  • Found:re Phoenix: This downtown hotel features 104 rooms decorated with local art and a giant, eyebrow-raising painting of Burt Reynolds in the lobby. Easy freeway access makes it a snap to navigate to Lost Dutchman State Park, but since the hotel is located along the Valley Metro Rail, you can also park the car and explore downtown by public transportation.
  • The Phoenician: For a luxury resort stay, book a room at The Phoenician. It’s a splurge, but after a long day hiking, you’ll be thankful you can lounge in the resort’s pools or unwind with a massage later in your stay.

How to Get There

From Phoenix, take U.S. 60 east toward Globe. At Exit 196, turn left onto State Route 88/S. Idaho Rd. Go 2.5 miles and turn right onto SR 88/Apache Trail. Continue 5 miles to the park’s entrance on the right.

If you are visiting from Tucson, take I-10 West and drive 47 miles to Exit 211. Turn right on State Route 87 and continue for 17 miles. In Coolidge, make another right onto West Coolidge Avenue. Follow the road two miles to South Attaway Road, and turn left. Drive approximately 5 miles. Turn right onto West Hunt Highway. Go another 5 miles, and turn left on U.S. 60. Take that for 12 miles, turn right at South Mountain View Road, and follow it to SR 88. Turn right and the park will be on the right about 2.5 miles down the road.

Superstition Mountains
 Jearlwebb / Getty Images

Accessibility

Park facilities—including the visitor center, bathrooms, campgrounds, and all five cabins—are accessible. There are also two accessible bathrooms in the Cholla and Saguaro day use areas. However, the only designated accessible trail in the park is the paved Native Plant Trail.

Tips for Your Visit

  • The entrance fee is $7 per vehicle for up to four adults. However, from October through May, the entrance fee jumps to $10 per vehicle on weekends (Friday through Sunday) and on holidays.
  • Unless you are camping or staying overnight in a cabin, you must park in one of the day use lots. You can’t park on the roads, near the cabins, or in the campsites. All inappropriately parked vehicles are subject to towing.
  • Leashed dogs are permitted in the campground and on the trails. Do not leave your pet in a vehicle or RV unattended. Even on pleasant or cool days, the temperature inside your vehicle can quickly climb to lethal levels.
  • Keep your eyes open for desert mule deer, coyote, desert cottontail, roadrunner, bobcat, Gila monster, javelina, and other Sonoran Desert animals while in the park. 
  • Several companies, such as O.K. Corral, offer horseback rides into the Superstition Mountain Wilderness. Rather ride in a vehicle? You can book jeep tours into the area as well. 
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Lost Dutchman State Park: The Complete Guide