This article was contributed by Suzie Jones, travel writer for Fodor's Gold Guides.
The most painted and photographed landmark in Arizona after the Grand Canyon, Superstition Mountain is a 3,000-foot-tall fault bound volcanic plug that speaks with the deep rumbling thunder of both ancient and modern sacred beliefs.
History of Superstition Mountain
Superstition Mountain was made 29 million years ago. When it was formed the caldera that gave birth to the mountain was seven miles in diameter and resulted in a mountain a thousand feet higher than it is today.
For local Native Americans (who believe all big mountains are sacred) this place near Apache Junction has many names. During the last couple of centuries it has been a tuning fork that clearly resonates the modern day belief in happiness through wealth.
The first European visit recorded was that of Italian born missionary and explorer Fray Marcos de Niza in 1639. However it was the Pima Indians that introduced the mountain to the Salt River Valley farmers in the late 1860’s. The Pima stories centered on their fear of the mountain and the local farmers subsequently named it Superstition Mountain.
Myth and Mystery
Legends old and new abound concerning Superstition Mountain:
Most of the modern legends were sparked from the US$ 3 million in Gold removed from the Mammoth mine in the mountain:
What to See at Superstition Mountain
Superstition Mountain is not the highest point in the area. Mountain peaks top 6,000 feet above sea level and this wilderness is a lucky dip of diversity with canyons, deserts, giant Saguaro cactus, Mountain lions and amphibians. It is a harsh playground with temperatures that can exceed 115°F in summer and drop below freezing in winter. The most temperate time is the popular hiking season from October to May when temperatures average between 65 to 85°F.
There are many trails in the Lost Dutchman State Park - don’t miss the Praying Hands, the Flatiron and the Peralta Trail (the Peralta brothers were the first to discover gold here), which runs across the Fremont Saddle and down into the eastern wilderness.
Whether the legendary gold will ever be found, the Superstition wilderness occupying 242 square miles around the mountain has a wealth of diverse fauna and flora that is accessible to anyone with a pair of hiking boots and a desire for fresh air. Look out for exposed ancient Indian petroglyphs when you wander about. Although almost 100,000 people visit this wilderness most of them hike less than a mile, preferring to concentrate on the abandoned ghost towns and historical museums. If you venture further, the Great American Outdoors will be experienced in all its glory.
The Apache Trail offers luxury resorts and spas where you can play golf in a landscape straight out of your favorite 1950s TV western. The Verde River and the lakes of Canyon and Saguaro are also in close proximity.
Quick Facts on Superstition Mountain
|Categories:||sacred rocks; petroglyph sites|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||33.410093° N, 111.400938° W|
|Address:||U.S. Route 60 and State Route 88|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Superstition Mountain|
Map of Superstition Mountain, United States
Below is a location map and aerial view of Superstition Mountain. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.