For the longest time, I wondered why the heck anyone would chose to move to the middle of the desert. Okay, I still wonder this sometimes, but I’m beginning to realize all that Arizona has to offer (besides 120 degree summers).
Saving up to buy my first house took some scary sacrifices, one of them being travelling far distances for a while. As much I wanted a home base, though, I can’t stay put. I took to exploring the Phoenix area, and here are some of the wonders that I found.
Superstition Mountains and Surroundings
Wow! Only 20 minutes from my home in San Tan Valley are some of the most amazing sites and experiences that Southern Arizona has to offer- all along the same road. The first stop: Goldfield Ghost Town. There are no entry fees here, and the products and services offered within are very reasonably priced. Some of the things I checked out here were the gold panning, zipline, reptile exhibit, and Mammoth Saloon. By the way, the grilled cheese is awesome.
Next was The Lost Dutchman Museum. There are also no fees for most of this museum- only a small entry fee for one of the buildings. Here, they offer history on the famous tales of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (if you haven’t read about this, look it up. It’s fascinating), old Western movies filmed in the area, and a general history on the Superstitions. There’s an Elvis chapel located near the front where many movies were filmed (we’re actually thinking about having our wedding here!) that is a must see. Here are some pics of the other features the museum has to offer.
A little further up the road, you run into Lost Dutchman State Park. This one you do have to pay a small entry fee. There are roads you can drive along to see the scenery from the safety of your AC, picnic areas with grills, and even hiking trails that lead up and into the Superstition Mountains. When you get to the front entrance, the rangers provide you with a detailed map of the entire park including distances of each road and hiking trail. In the picnic areas, you can enjoy awesome scenery of the mountains from afar. The sunsets are absolutely breathtaking. The header picture for this post is one I took of the mountains from one of the picnic areas.
Let’s continue up the road. This is where the drive starts to turn into switchback mountain grades that lead you to the lakes. The drive is gorgeous (and a little scary). It’s 8 miles to get to Canyon Lake. Beware of large trucks traveling in the opposite direction pulling boats. There are scenic pullouts along the way. Once you reach the lake, there are picnic and fishing spots, a beach, boat rentals, a restaurant, and a dolly that tours the lake. For boat rentals, they offer everything from kayaks to speed boats. Once out on a boat on the lake, you will see a lot of wildlife- all different kinds of birds and fish. Keep an eye out on the top of the canyons for the big horned sheep! I have seen them every time I’ve been out on the lake.
Last but not least, is Tortilla Flats just two more miles up the road. This a tiny little stop with the main feature being its restaurant. The main features are bar stools made out of saddles and dollar bills covering every inch of the walls. Each bill is signed and dated by the guests from all over the world. I personally have two bills posted behind the bar. I cannot seem to locate the photos I have of this place, but I will update if I find them.