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A Treasure Hunt in Arizona's Superstition Mountains

Arizona's Superstition Mountains earned their name from local legend.

The Superstition Mountains rise from the ground 50 miles east of Phoenix.

Laurens Hoddenbagh / Shutterstock

Eerie rumblings, disappearing prospectors, tunnels to the underworld—the legends that earned Arizona's Superstition Mountains their name are as haunting as the range's otherworldly beauty. Rising abruptly from the Sonoran Desert some 50 miles east of Phoenix, the colorful cliffs and fantastical spires were born of ancient volcanic eruptions and harsh erosion. The resulting rock formations put the scenic in the Apache Trail Scenic Byway, a 42-mile road with views so stunning that Teddy Roosevelt invoked the Alps, the Rockies, and the Grand Canyon in one breath. The first half of the route winds past 993-foot-tall Weavers Needle, the ghost town of Goldfield, and Lost Dutchman State Park. On the 2.4-mile Treasure Loop Trail, you can stroll among saguaro and cholla cacti while watching for quail, hawks, and javelinas. As for finding the Lost Dutchman's fabled gold mine? That's a secret the Superstitions seem determined to keep.