A flickering light moved eerily down the mountain, silhouetted in the dark. “You know who that is,” I whispered in my best ghost-story voice. The campfire crackled under a slivered-moon in the brisk night air. “It’s the lost Dutchman searching for his gold,” I continued. Greg and I were officially camping. We just needed gooey marshmallows on sticks to complete the scene.
The Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, AZ is a delightful setting for cozy campfires and scary storytelling. Named after the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, the park sets on suburbia’s fringe near the Superstition Mountain range. Tales of hidden gold and mysterious disappearances cloud the craggy peaks attracting treasure seekers, historians, journalists and television crews from around the world. They search for gold and evidence to piece together remnants of history.
We found the area’s true riches in its rugged beauty. Jagged mountains rise from the desert floor as giant saguaros stand guard. Coyotes howl and birds whistle like humans. Stars show up to be counted. Park paths lead to a network of trails in the Superstition Wilderness and Tonto National Forest delivering city views and scenic vistas. The popular Siphon Draw Trail lured us onto its moderate path then morphed into a grueling, boulder-scrambling trek and an almost-vertical climb to Flatiron plateau. Not wanting to add our names to the historical annals of mysterious disappearances we turned our boots around after slick rock basin when the path turned skyward!
The Dutchman’s mine may be lost but the Sonoran Desert still holds discoverable treasures.
For more information: www.azstateparks.com; (480) 982-4485
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