You’ll find Gold in the Superstitions

Who says there’s no gold in them thar hills?

Lost Dutchman State Park, 2,000 feet in elevation, sits at the base of the Superstition Mountains. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lost Dutchman State Park could be a goldmine for Arizona. It has beautiful trails and is just minutes away from Apache Junction, Canyon Lake, and Goldfield Ghost Town.

Delays in a campground construction project at Lost Dutchman State Park are costing the state of Arizona as much as $380 a day in lost revenue. But these short-term losses are expected to turn into long-term profits when electricity and water become available at campsites, reports the Arizona Republic.

Higher camping fees are expected to make the park financially self-sustaining, removing it from any potential park closure list.

According to the report, campsites and new bathrooms and showers are expected to be finished this spring.

Although attendance is down as the park struggles with the false perception that facilities were closed a year ago, revenues are rising because of increases in admission and camping charges.

Lost Dutchman was one of 13 parks scheduled to close last year, even though it lost only $9,545 during the 2008-09 fiscal year and has an estimated $4.1 million impact on Apache Junction’s economy.

A pair of House Finch keep watch over their Sonoran home. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lost Dutchman has collected $82,211 in revenues during the 2010-11 fiscal year, compared with $70,648 in the 2009-10 fiscal year. Visitation is slightly down, 22,237 this year compared with 23,772 the previous year.

A motorcycle ride and donations from benefactors raised $24,000 to keep the park open during the summer for hiking. Similar community efforts around the state raised more than $500,000 to keep other parks from closing.

After the park’s continued operation was ensured, focus shifted toward the $415,000 campground improvement project to boost the park’s revenues.

For a variety of reasons, the project was set back—bids didn’t go out until October, and construction didn’t start until November. Now, 38 out of the 72 camping sites remain closed as construction progresses.

The project is funded by federal grants and Heritage Fund money that was set aside before the Legislature diverted profits from Lottery ticket sales into the general fund.

Hug a Saguaro

Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum with the Superstitutions in the distance. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fans of Lost Dutchman State Park will soon have an opportunity to hug a saguaro. The Friends of Lost Dutchman State Park is launching an “Adopt a Cactus” fundraiser. One hundred saguaros have been photographed and their locations tracked with global positioning system coordinates.

Details are still being worked out and the sponsorships should be available in late March or April.

The saguaros are on the Treasure Loop, near the Cholla picnic area.

The sponsorships probably would cost from $75 to $100 per saguaro, with older saguaros costing more because they are more intricate.

Worth Pondering…
Alone in the open desert,

I have made up songs of wild, poignant rejoicing and transcendent melancholy.

The world has seemed more beautiful to me than ever before.

I have loved the red rocks, the twisted trees, the sand blowing in the wind, the slow, sunny clouds crossing the sky, the shafts of moonlight on my bed at night.

I have seemed to be at one with the world.

—Everett Ruess

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