Lost Dutchman State Park and The Legend Behind it
Visiting Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona
One of the most dynamic landscapes in the Phoenix, Arizona area
Lost Dutchman State Park is comprised of 20 acres of wilderness nestled against the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. The park provides magnificent views of the mountains, especially the Flatiron, which is the second most photographed spot in Arizona -- preceded only by the Grand Canyon.
The Superstition Mountains were formed 18 million years ago by volcanic activity. According to Apache folklore, the Underworld lies beneath the Superstitions and it is the winds from this lower world that cause dust storms in the desert. Native American tales about the mountains led local farmers to name them the Superstitions in the 1860's.
In Lost Dutchman State Park, there are hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate to difficult, from 1/4 mile to a steep strenuous 5.8 hours to scale the Flatiron. The park also has campsites with electric/water hook ups for RV’s and primitive sites for tent camping. Most campsites are spacious and have a beautiful view of the mountains.
Lost Dutchman is one of the award-winning Arizona State Parks, voted the best park system in the nation. We love the beauty of the Lost Dutchman Park and its friendly and helpful rangers.
The Legend Behind The Name
Many Arizonans (and adventurers from other states) have heard the legend of the Lost Dutchman's Mine but few know the details. Who was the Lost Dutchman? Did he really discover a gold mine in the Superstition Mountains?
In the 1840's the Peralta family of Northern Mexico discovered a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. According to legend, as they transported gold back to Mexico in 1848, they were ambushed by Apaches and nearly everyone in the family was killed. The exact site of the mine was then lost and remained unknown for a number of years until German immigrant Jacob Waltz rediscovered it in the 1880's.
Waltz was reported to have sold $250,000 in gold (that equates to nearly $6.3 million today!!) to the U.S. Mint during the 1880's. When he died in 1891, he had $1,500 in gold and a 30 acre homestead near Phoenix. Stories say that Waltz made a deathbed confession about the mine to Julia Thomas, the neighbor who was caring for him. But apparently his dying words weren't clear because the location of the mine was lost again. The mine was reported to lie in the shadow of Weaver's Needle (a large pillar of rock) but there were no specifics as to the time of year or time of day that would have pinpointed where the shadow would be cast.
For nearly 130 years, the legend of the Lost Dutchman mine has persisted. Hundreds of intrepid adventurers have searched unsuccessfully for Jacob Waltz' gold. Superstition Mountain historian George Johnston estimates that 4-5 hikers die each year in the rugged 200,000 acre Superstition Wilderness due to the "sharp drop offs, deep canyons, extreme temperature changes, harsh winds, and dangerous wildlife". We would add that they don’t carry nearly enough water for the extreme Arizona heat. Other than that, searching for the gold is easy. :)
For us the real gold in Lost Dutchman is being up close to the amazingly beautiful Superstition Mountains!