There are many legends, myths, and haunted tales about the Superstition Mountains, but everyone agrees that to go into the mountains themselves, you need an experienced guide. Although we didn't have one, we did want to see the mountains so we spent the night in Phoenix and drove to the Superstitions early one morning. Looking at them, it's easy to see why all the ghostly legends surround them.
The mountains rise three thousand feet above the landscape, and have a dramatic beauty about them - you just can't take your eyes away. Their history is worth exploring as well. As far as anyone can determine, the first inhabitants of the Superstition Mountain area may have arrived here as much as 5000 years ago. The Hohokam and Mogollon Indian cultures flourished in the area more than two thousand years ago, and the Salado Indians inhabited the area from 1000 A.D. to 1400 A.D.
The first european to have seen them was probably Fray Marcos de Niza, when he came to the area in 1539 searching for the legendary Cibola, the seven cities of gold. No one knows whether he actually entered the Superstitions, though, and it may have been better for him if he hadn't.
Of all the mountain groups in the region, the Superstition Mountains themselves were considered sacred by the Indians, and some say that this is the reason that so many people have died who have gone up into the mountains. Since recorded history, there are many deaths associated with explorations into the Superstition Mountains. Even today, prospectors pack up into the Superstitions, looking for a treasure, specifically, the Lost Dutchman Mine. If you're not familiar with the story of the lost dutchman, click here for a synopsis.
Spirits of the prospectors who have died are said to still haunt the mountains in search of the hidden gold, and in fact, many human skeletons have been discovered there. This is not something that the average visitor would experience, but current gold miners acknowledge the presence of the spirits as if they were flesh and blood. If you're going to look for the Lost Dutchman Mine, it is just something that you have to prepare for.
There are other local legends as well, and one is a typical "vanishing hitchhiker" story that is probably more "urban legend" than actual spirit.
Still, the mountains are hauntingly beautiful, and we loved our visit there.
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