Lost Dutchman State Park: Mixture of Mountains & Mystery

During the past winter I posted two articles on Lost Dutchman, an Arizona State Park named after Jacob Waltz, the Dutchman, who reportedly found a gold mine in the Superstitions in the 1870s. According to legend, the gold is still there somewhere.

The proximity of the Superstition Wilderness Area makes the park an ideal base for hikers and horse riders. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For generations, treasure hunters have been scouring the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction for some trace of the Lost Dutchman’s gold.

Wildflowers are yellow, but they might as well be gold at Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction. And gold, whether it’s the Lost Dutchman’s or any other kind, is something the entire Arizona State Parks system could use with the state legislature raiding $3.5 million from gate receipts to help reduce the budget shortfall.

Because Mother Nature has a mind of her own, Arizona’s wildflower season varies from year to year. With few wildflowers this spring following a dry winter, attendance dropped in March by nearly 6,000 visitors from a year earlier, when an unusually wet winter left a bountiful yellow blanket on the slopes of the Superstitions.

Park manager, Tom Fisher said the park was profitable until the wildflowers failed to materialize, but those profits disappeared.

State Parks spokeswoman, Ellen Bilbrey, said Lost Dutchman’s revenues are up by a miniscule 1.36 percent from a year ago despite a 14.3 percent drop in attendance. The revenues increased mainly due to higher gate and camping fees.

Delays in completing the campground electric upgrade project, promoted as a means of increasing profitability, has been another major setback. The $415,000 project, financed mostly with federal grants, went out to bid late, and construction during the prime winter months forced the park to turn away potential customers, with more than half the spaces unavailable until mid-February.

The Superstitions have been a source of mystery and legend since early times. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After several months of construction, the electric and water hookup sites are now available at Lost Dutchman. All sites are still on a first come first served basis with a reservation system expected later in 2011. Reservations are now available on-line at nine Arizona State Parks for a $5 non-refundable fee.

Photo Tips

Going the Distance

To capture the greatest depth of field, focus one-third of the way into your image—the hyperfocal distance. When the lens is focused at that distance, the depth of field extends from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity. To be more precise, use a depth of field calculator.

Let There Be Light

Photography is all about capturing light. The best photographers are able to take advantage of dramatic lighting opportunities brought about by dynamic weather conditions, giving their work an added dimension. As they say: Luck favors the well prepared.


Lost Dutchman State Park

Location: 5 miles north of Apache Junction, off of AZ 88 (Apache Trail)

Park Entrance Fees: $7.00/vehicle

Camping Fees: $25.00, water and 50/30/20 amp electric service; $15.00, non-hookup

Information: (480) 982-4485


Adopt a Saguaro Cactus. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing so uniquely represents Arizona like the Saguaro cactus. Equally as unique as these cacti, is the ability to share this state treasure with family and friends anywhere in the world through the adoptacactus.org program.

Adoptacactus.org was established to help sustain and preserve these statuesque monuments to the Southwest and the protected areas that house them; like Lost Dutchman State Park.

At the base of the famed Superstition Mountains, Lost Dutchman State Park is home to thousands of magnificent cacti; proceeds from this program will directly ensure the park’s sustainability for future generations.

Adopting a Saguaro is easy! Simply choose the type and size of Saguaro you would like to adopt, click “Adopt Me”, fill out the required mailing and payment information, and you will receive an Official Adoptacactus.com Adoption certificate, picture of your adopted saguaro with GPS coordinates, and thank you letter showing your tax deductible amount from the Friends of Lost Dutchman State Park (FLDSP). Since FLDSP is a 501c3 Organization, 100% of your adoption amount is tax deductible.

The adoption fees are based on the size of the cactus and how long you want the adoption to last.

Period of adoption are one year, five years, and twenty years.

Worth Pondering…
A saguaro can fall for a snowman but where would they set up house?

—Jodi Picoult

Leave a Reply