Located east of Greater Phoenix, the Superstition Mountains tower over 6,000 feet above the Sonoran Desert. The Superstitions, as they're known colloquially in Arizona, are only 40 miles from the Greater Phoenix area. The mountains are easily accessibly as a fun day trip for tourists visiting Greater Phoenix or Phoenix locals looking to venture out of the city to explore the scenic beauty of the Sonoran Desert and the lure and myths of the Old West.
The Superstitions are said to get their name from the Akimel O'odham people who told stories about strange sounds emanating from the mountains, people disappearing, mysterious deaths, and an ongoing fear of the mountain. Inspired by the oral history of the Akimel O'odham, local farmers in the 1800's officially named the mountains the "Superstitions" in honor of their indigenous history.
The Superstitions are located inside of Tonto National Forest, along with the Superstition Wilderness area, a primitive area only accessible by foot or horse. Lost Dutchman State Park borders Tonto National Park and is accessible through Tonto National Forest, but it isn't part of Tonto National Forest.
The Superstitions are one of Arizona's most treasured recreational attractions, offering activities for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and water sports enthusiasts. At a size of over 160,000 acres, there's something for everyone to enjoy in the Superstitions.
Check out some of the most popular trails and attractions in the Superstitions area, below.
Superstition MountainBack to Top of List
Superstition Mountain was once inhabited by indigenous tribes such as the Akimel O’odham and the White Mountain Apache. Geologists say the Superstitions were formed by intensive volcanic activity that took place in Arizona millions of years ago. To this day, people claim they sometimes hear rumblings coming from the Superstitions that sound like rolling thunder. Geologists believe the sound comes from seismic activity resonated by the canyon walls. The White Mountain Apache believed the Superstitions thundered because the mountains are the home of the thunder gods.
Landmarks and popular trails such as Weaver's Needle, Flatiron, and the Superstition Ridgeline are all found in the Superstition Mountains. Check out some of them below.
Hieroglyphic Trailhead - Hieroglyphic Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118
Fremont Saddle via Peralta Canyon Trail - Peralta Rd, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118
Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail - 6109 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Lost Dutchman State ParkBack to Top of List
The 320-acre park gets its name from the famous Old West tale of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, where rumor has it that there's "gold in them thar hills!" The park's Superstition Mountains are one of the most popular spots for photos in Greater Phoenix as well as a great place for hikes.
Trails from Lost Dutchman State Park take hikers into the Superstition Mountain Wilderness and nearby Tonto National Forest. The State Park features hiking trails, picnic facilities, campsites, and group use areas.
Treasure Loop Trail - Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Jacob's Crosscut Trail - Srv Rd 78, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Siphon Draw Trail - 6109 Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Wildflower Super Bloom
The Superstition Mountains are already a sight to behold, so blooming wildflowers only make the scenery even more gorgeous. After a rainy season, you'll see plenty of brittlebush and poppies, as well as jojoba, Mormon tea and more. To learn more about where you can find wildflowers in bloom the Greater Phoenix area, check out our Wildflower post.
Tonto National ForestBack to Top of List
The Superstition Wilderness extends across 160,200 acres of beautiful country within Tonto National Forest. Tonto National Forest is recognized not only for its native flora and fauna, but also for the unique recreational opportunities it offers year-round. The peaks in the Superstition Wilderness area range in elevation from around 2,000 ft to a high of 6,253 feet at Mound Mountaion. Weaver's Needle, a popular rock formation in the Superstitions that is viewable from many miles away, rises to a spire of 4,555 ft. Tonto National Park has an impressive 180 miles of trails, for amateurs and experienced hikers alike.
Butcher Jones Trail - Arizona 85264
Massacre Grounds Trail - First Water Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Broadway Trailhead - 825 S Broadway Ln, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Apache Trail - A Historic and Scenic Drive
The Apache Trail is legendary because it was once considered the most treacherous stretch of highway in the country. Today, the well-traveled road still requires some adept driving—the speed limit is 15 mph—but the narrow and tight turns deliver jaw-dropping portals to canyons, cliff dwellings, jutting rock formations, sparking blue lakes and dense desert flora. Learn more about the 40-mile trail, which links Apache Junction to Globe and circles the Tonto National Forest, on our Scenic Drives list.
Horseback RidingBack to Top of List
Saddle up and experience the towering mountains, picturesque views, and the iconic history of the Old West on horseback through the Superstition Mountains. O.K. Corral offers guided trail rides, wilderness rides, and back country rides through the interior of one of Arizona's most beautiful and extraordinary mountain ranges.
Nearby AttractionsBack to Top of List
Goldfield Ghost Town - Apache Junction, AZ
A 115-year-old town still stands on the historic Apache Trail in Apache Junction. Explore what was once Goldfield, a bustling mining town of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and take a mine tour, slither through the Superstition Reptile Exhibit or watch an Old Western gun fight.
Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum - Apache Junction, AZ
The Superstition Mountain Museum collects, preserves and displays the artifacts, history and folklore of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction and surrounding region. Visitors will not want to miss out on the Elvis Presley chapel!
Tortilla Flat - Tortilla Flat, AZ
A former stagecoach stop that is now an incorporated town (population 6) with an Old West-themed restaurant and bar, a tiny post office, and a gift shop with quirky Arizona souvenirs and mining relics.
Dolly Steamboat - Tortilla Flat, AZ
View beautiful Canyon Lake views on the Dolly Steamboat. The Dolly offers a scenic nature cruise, twilight dinner cruise, astronomy dinner cruise, and a game and fish bighorn sheep cruise. Learn all about Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, and the surrounding area aboard the Dolly.
Tonto National Monument - Roosevelt, AZ
At Tonto National Monument you will find two Salado-style cliff dwellings and discover the different ways ancient peoples used the resources of the land to create colorful pottery, cotton cloth, and other artifacts.
Don't miss raucous revelry at the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival. The Arizona Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 16-stage theater, a 50-acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast — all rolled into one non-stop, day-long family adventure.