In March 2014 we were enjoying a stay at Picacho Peak State Park between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Having heard the desert flowers were in bloom in front of the Superstition Mountains at Lost Dutchman State Park, we headed that way for a day trip. We were blown away by the beauty of the scenery and how top notch the campground appeared.
We got our iconic shots of the yellow flowers in bloom in front of the mountains and vowed to return to camp someday. During each winter snowbird season since I have gone online to book a weeks stay, but each year I’ve been too late! The place is so popular only a few sites would be available and just for a few nights. This year I smartened up reserving in early November and managed to snag a great spot from Jan 21 – 28th.
Lost Dutchman State Park Campground
Lost Dutchman State Park campground has 134 campsites split into several loops with a 50/50 mix of water and electric and dry camping. All the sites have a paved RV parking area. Each site has a picnic table, fire pit, and BBQ grill; some have metal shelters. Pricing is reasonable at $20 a night dry camping and $30 for water and electric.
The spacing between sites varies from adequate to very good depending on the loop. I chose site #63 in the middle section containing two loops of large semicircle pull-thrus. The campsite was huge with excellent privacy and natural views. Each day we were visited by a group of quail, various birdlife, and the odd cottontail rabbit.
The way the campground is laid out under the fabulous Superstition Mountains every one gets a pretty decent view right from the campsite. There are a couple of bathroom buildings with free showers, which was nice to help increase the dry camping time.
On the drive into the camping area is a dual dump station including a potable water fill. Maneuvering the rig around the campground wasn’t hard at all, there is plenty of space with lots of pull thru sites or slanted back in spots.
Things To Do
Within the park, the big attraction of course camping but also hiking, biking, ranger talks and for us, photography. The lush Sonoran desert landscape and mountain scenery make for beautiful photos. The color of the Superstition mountain changes throughout the day and light up dramatically as the sun slowly sets.
Beyond the park, gates you’ll find a plethora of things to see and do. The park is situated on the doorstep of Greater Phoenix with all its major attractions and on the edge of rugged mountain backcountry. A person can partake in any number of old west tourist attractions, southwest themed eateries or with a short drive be alone in the Arizona desert wildness of the Tonto National Forest.
I highly recommend a trip out scenic AZ Highway 88 (The Apache Trail). The scenery in many spots was simply breathtaking, right out of an old western movie. But beware the road is narrow, full of day trippers and occasional tight hairpin curves so don’t take a big rig or long trailer unless you’re used to that sort of thing. For those brave enough there is free/cheap backcountry camping to be had at Tortilla Flat or in some parts of the National Forest.
A highlight for Anne and I was a visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park over near Superior, AZ. Situated about a 30-minute drive to the southeast the Arboretum is host to gorgeous desert gardens full of birds and other wildlife. The entrance fee was $12.50 each and well worth it as we spent a good 3 hours wandering through the expansive property. The variety of cacti and other desert plant life is incredible. Anne was in photographer heaven.
A week was way too short for us to explore this vibrant corner of Arizona. I thoroughly enjoyed the short time spent there. We already have plans to return next winter for a much more extended stay. Lost Dutchman State Park will for sure be on the camping list.