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flickr/Ken Lund

The Lost Dutchman Mine Just outside Phoenix, the Superstition Mountains loom with the possibility of striking it rich during your trip—if you believe the legend of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. According to the lore of Western movies and books, the Superstitions horde millions in unmined gold. The cache is elusive; no one has found the mysterious mine in more than a century. Undeterred by previous failures, prospectors and adventure travel enthusiasts continue to scour the forbidding peaks and basaltic rock of this destination, hoping for the ultimate payday: the Dutchman's gold by the buckets full.

The legend itself is based on a few facts; the rest is up for grabs. Jacob Waltz, a German prospector known as the “Dutchman,” emerged in Phoenix during the 1870s with a saddlebag of high-quality gold. Waltz boasted he had found a rich gold vein—but he steadfastly refused to reveal its whereabouts in the Superstition Mountains.

Back then, few ventured into the Sonoran Desert and the inhospitable Superstitions, as it was one of the most dangerous things to do in Phoenix. If heat or thirst didn't kill you, the Apaches would—trespassing was forbidden in this sacred terrain. In the midst of so much danger, Jacob Waltz somehow defied the odds and struck it rich. And he returned to the barren mountains countless times to add to his golden stash.

After living a long, quiet life, Waltz died in 1891. Legend has it that before he passed away, he whispered cryptic clues about the mine's location to his caretaker, Julia Thomas, who later found gold under his bed. Finally convinced by the tale, she followed the old man's directions, as did thousands of others. Every gold-panner has come up empty, and many have died mysterious or gruesome deaths. After all this time, Waltz's gold remains lost.

The name is a misnomer, of course—the mine is lost, not the Dutchman—and naysayers abound. Geologists doubt that the Superstitions even contain gold. Did Waltz really find his treasure in these hills? Or was it a hoax? It doesn't really matter. The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine lives on as an enduring—and fascinating—legend of the Southwest.

You can travel to these legendary mountains during your vacation and judge for yourself; Lost Dutchman State Park is at the foot of the Superstitions, 30 miles east of Phoenix. A visit to this park is on the list of fun things to do with friends, as you don’t want to explore the wilderness on your own. The summer heat can be dangerous, so plan your trip for the cooler months and pack some trail food from one of the city’s many local restaurants. And keep a sharp eye out for zealous gold prospectors.

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Phoenix, AZ

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Travel Information

City Population

1,445,632

Elevation

1,117 ft.

Sales Tax

The statewide sales tax is 5.6 percent; an additional 2.3 percent is added in Phoenix and an additional 0.7 percent is added in Maricopa County. There is a hotel/motel tax of 12.57 percent. Rental cars incur a 15.1 percent tax, plus an 11.11 percent concession fee. There is a stadium tax of 3.25 percent. Airport parking includes a daily surcharge of $4.50.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(602) 262-6151

Hospitals

Banner Estrella Medical Center, (623) 327-4000; Banner—University Medical Center, (602) 839-2000; Maricopa Integrated Health System, (602) 344-5011; St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, (844) 369-5479.

Visitor Information

125 N. 2nd St., Suite 120 Phoenix, AZ 85004. Phone:(602)254-6500 or (877)225-5749

Air Travel

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Rental Cars

At the airport, Hertz, (602) 267-8822 or (800) 654-3131, offers discounts to AAA members.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc. has terminals at 2115 E. Buckeye Rd., (602) 389-4200, and 2647 W. Glendale Ave., (602) 246-0907 or (800) 231-2222.

Taxis

Taxi companies serving the greater Phoenix area include Yellow Cab, (480) 888-8888; Discount Cab, (602) 200-2000; and VIP Taxi, (602) 300-3000.

Public Transportation

Valley METRO Light Rail connects downtown Phoenix to the neighboring communities of Tempe and Mesa. To reach Sky Harbor International Airport, get off at the station at 44th and Washington streets. From there, the free PHX Sky Train connects to the East Economy parking area and Terminals 3 and 4. At Terminal 4, shuttle buses provide transportation to Terminals 2 and 3.

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