Lost Dutchman State Park Review: Yay or Nay? Find Out Here!

Lost Dutchman State Park Review: Yay or Nay? Find Out Here!

State parks are great places to stay in. They offer plenty of clean amenities, affordable sites, and are generally positioned such that you get to experience fantastic views while still being in close proximity to modern conveniences.

The Lost Dutchman State Park is no exception. While there are a few things that could be better, you’ll find plenty to make up for it. Keep in mind that the best time to visit this park will depend on how hot you like to be.

The Lost Dutchman State Park is near Phoenix, so in the summer, it gets hot. In fact, hot doesn’t even begin to describe it. You can’t do anything outside during the summer unless you’re soaking in the pool.

However, wintertime is the peak season for snowbirds and everyone who wants to enjoy the fantastic weather, so you’ll pay higher premiums on activities and deal with larger crowds. You can usually split the difference and visit somewhere in the middle, but it’s up to you.

Your Arrival

dutchman state park

The staff at the Lost Dutchman State Park make your check-in relatively seamless. If you arrive while they’re open, you pull up to the ranger station and offer your name. They’ll look you up on the list of reservations, give you a tag for your car (you can have up to two), and direct you to your site.

Of course, they provide literature like a map and a pamphlet about the park. If you arrive after they’ve closed, it’s still easy enough to find your own way to your campsite and set up. They have campground hosts sprinkled throughout the grounds, and if you find one of them, they’ll be glad to help you.

If you get set up on your own, just make sure you check-in at the ranger station in the morning to get your tags and everything you need to reserve your site.

Spots and Reservations

The Lost Dutchman offers a variety of spot sizes, including options for RVs and for tents. If you have an RV, you can choose from a back-in site or a pull-through site. There are 68 sites with hookups for water and electricity, including 50, 30, and 20 amp service. They also have a central dump station for everyone to use.

The other half of the sites are paved for either tents or RVs and every site comes with a fire pit and a picnic table. Pets on leashes are always welcome, and while there are no size restrictions on your RV, keep in mind that the pull-through sites are in a U shape.

Take it from some personal experience, believe it or not, sometimes it’s better to just back in. While prices are always changing, state park camping is generally relatively affordable. Most state parks have also made it incredibly easy to book online. The Lost Dutchman is no different.

At less than $30 a day, it’s well worth it to be surrounded by great views while still being close to plenty of other attractions. You’ll pay even less for tent camping because you don’t need hookups. There are cheaper places to stay if you don’t want hookups or don’t need to be in an organized campground. Boondocking, for example, offers more flexibility, but it can be nerve-racking for beginners.

Scenery

The Lost Dutchman State Park is situated at the base of the Superstition Mountains in the Tonto National Forest. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Phoenix itself, nicknamed the Valley of the Sun, is surrounded by mountains. You’ll be up close and personal with the Superstitions, but you’ll still have panoramic views of other surrounding ranges as well.

In keeping with most deserts, you’ll find a lot of dirt, but you’ll be able to enjoy more varieties of cacti than you can possibly count, as well as all kinds of native wildlife that can be elusive unless you’re patient enough to wait them out.

Hiking

hiking

There are plenty of hiking trails accessible from your campsite at the Lost Dutchman State Park. You can hike on foot or take advantage of bike trails if that’s more your speed. While hiking through the mountains can be beautiful, it can also be very dangerous. Always carry a topographical map and remember that summer temperatures often exceed 100℉. Carry at least one gallon of water with you.

One thing you may need to be prepared for is trails that aren’t very well marked. Unfortunately, some trails aren’t as well marked as they should be, and even with a map, it’s easy to get lost.

With a compass, you can find your way back out, but it may or may not be on a trail build for pedestrians. There are several access roads for employees, as well as a nearby state highway, so you’ll never be too far from civilization. Just be careful.

If you’d like to do other hiking while in the area, you can leave the Lost Dutchman State Park and take a short drive to Silly Mountain. There are miles upon miles of trails covering Silly Mountain, and it’s a gorgeous hike for people of all skill levels.

You can stay at the base of the mountain for very easy to moderate trails or you can hike up to the high point for a great workout and views beyond compare. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the botanical gardens at the base, too.

It’s all free, and you could spend hours exploring this small mountain without ever getting lost. Hieroglyphic Trial is another one of the best hiking experiences in the Phoenix area. It’s a 5-mile round trip of intermediate difficulty, but the views when you get to the end are simply spectacular.

It opens up into a beautiful valley with native petroglyphs carved into the rock. You can sit back and enjoy the view while relaxing to the sound of the babbling brook, or you can climb around and explore each crevice for an up close and personal look at these rock drawings.

Facilities

If you remember the days of camping in crappy parks when you were a kid, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by the facilities at state parks and many other campgrounds these days.

Campgrounds have come a long way. Camping is no longer the poor people’s vacationing solution. People from many different walks of life enjoy camping of all kinds, and campgrounds as well as state parks keep their facilities very clean.

The Lost Dutchman State Park has several bathrooms and shower facilities throughout the campground. They’re open to anyone using the park, so even if you’re staying in your RV, you can use the bathrooms on-site to keep your own tanks clean.

It’s very clear that the Lost Dutchman staff is very diligent in keeping their bathrooms clean. They’re always spotless, with no foul odors. They’re well vented and cleaned multiple times a day. Soap and toilet paper are always on hand, so you’ll never go without.

Other amenities at the park include hiking trails (of course), a ranger station where you can pick up souvenirs and other educational materials, a fire pit and a picnic table at every site, trash receptacles throughout, and plenty of shelters to gather with friends.

Additional Learning

Other opportunities abound for families and those new to the area. If you’re on a family vacation, check out the Junior Ranger program. Every state park will offer some sort of educational opportunity for the local geography, climate, and wildlife.

The Lost Dutchman, as part of the Arizona State Parks system, offers a Junior Ranger program for kids to learn more about the area. It’s a fun way to get them involved with hiking and being outdoors. Plus, it’s free!

The ranger station hands out workbooks and field guilds to children based on age. Children can read, explore, research, and color. They will have to answer questions and complete activities. Once they’re done, they turn in their packet to the ranger station and get sworn in as Junior Rangers. That includes an oral quiz tailored to their level of knowledge, an oath, and a ceremony, complete with a badge pinning.

They’ll also walk away with other swag like gold and a poster. If you’d like, you can purchase additional materials in the shop, like books and other souvenirs.

Other Attractions

The Lost Dutchman is in the perfect spot because there’s so much more to do. It’s on Arizona State Highway 88, and if you continue to follow it north, you’ll run into Canyon Lake. Here you can enjoy lovely views, ride the Dolly steamboat, swim on the beach, or camp.

Continue north to Tortilla Flat for lunch, souvenirs, and snacks. If you decide to take a day trip all the way up to Roosevelt Lake, you won’t be disappointed by the scenic drive. You can eat at the marina and then visit the Tonto National Monument and hike up to the cliff dwellings.

There’s even camping up here if you want to try it next time you’re in the area.

If you’d rather not venture that far, you can visit the Goldfield Ghost Town, right across the street from the Lost Dutchman. They offer to pan for gold, mine tours, and wild west shootouts. The Superstition Mountain Museum down the street will teach you all about the original “Lost Dutchman,” Jacob Waltz. You’ll also get a history lesson on Native Americans and the local geology.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Great location
  • Fantastic views
  • Clean facilities
  • Plenty of attractions

Cons: 

  • Trails aren’t well marked
  • Pull-through sites are too small for large rigs

Alternatives

If you want to stay in the Phoenix area, but you’re not sold on the Lost Dutchman, there are some other options. Be aware the Phoenix has a huge 55 and older community, and many of the RV parks are for ages 55+.

If you meet the age requirements, these are great places to stay. However, it can be tough for families to find welcoming arrangements in the area.

Eagle View RV Resort

Eagle View RV Resort

This location is open year-round and offers plenty of hospitality. The staff is super friendly, which makes up for the fact that it’s one of those RV parks where you see RVs parked in rows. The ambiance is a bit lacking. They offer lots of amenities like a clubhouse with a computer room, wifi, cable TV, fitness room,  basketball, horseshoes, pickleball, and badminton. They also have showers available as well as a dog run.

They’re a bit more pricey, but they offer full hookups, including waste and disposal, so you don’t have to move once you’re parked and set up.

Lake Pleasant RV Park

lake pleasant rv park

This is another resort that offers full hookups and wifi. You’ll enjoy parking on a gorgeous lake with tall trees and plenty of beautiful hidden places to explore.

They have 253 sites offering full hookups along with an additional 60 partial hookup sites. There’s unlimited dry camping if that’s your thing, so don’t feel left out. They also have a pool, a clubhouse, laundry facilities, picnic grounds, and a convenience store.

KOA

Don’t knock it until you try it. You might think that a KOA campground isn’t worth a second look, but you’re going to want to check this one out. Nestled on the old Apache Trail, this campground has everything you need.

It’s expensive if you’re staying for only a few nights, but the monthly rates make it well worth the visit. They have a pool that’s open year-round and it’s in the perfect location for all of the attractions Phoenix has to offer.

FAQs

If you’re thinking about spending some time at Lost Dutchman State Park, here are some frequently asked questions that may help you decide how to plan your trip.

Are dogs allowed at Lost Dutchman State Park?

If you like to camp with your furry friends, you’re not alone. The Lost Dutchman State Park welcomes four-legged critters of all sorts, as long as they are leashed and well behaved. Bring them along for the adventures!

What is the curse of Superstition Mountain?

The Superstition Mountains are named so for a reason. There’s a legend afoot that treasure is hidden within. Men have been driving themselves mad for centuries looking for it. Jacob Waltz claimed no one would ever find his mine, and that may be true, but he also died exploring.
Your greatest danger may be the man at your side, or even yourself. Many men have been lost trying to find the Lost Dutchman. If you visit the area, you’ll find all kinds of stories detailing the history, and you’ll learn a lot from the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Are there bears in the Superstition Mountains?

For some reason, many people worry about bears while camping, despite the fact that there’s plenty of other dangerous wildlife, especially in the desert. Yes, there are black bears in the Superstition Mountains. However, there are also mountain lions, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and scorpions.

Final Thoughts

You won’t beat the view at the Lost Dutchman State Park, and for the price, it’s definitely worth it if you want to visit the area. While the hiking within the park could be better, there are plenty of other surrounding trails offering superior hiking.

They offer a variety of campsite types, picnic tables, firepits, clean facilities, and learning opportunities for the whole family. There are also a lot of exciting things to do in the surrounding area.