Superstition Mountains--the Swiss Alps of the Sonoran Desert

Book This Trip
Phoenix, AZ Superstition Mountains--Tonto National Forest
Trip Length
Group Size
Activity Level
See Dates tab Custom dates upon request
Inquire for latest Pricing

Teddy Roosevelt called the Superstition Mountains "the Swiss Alps of the Sonoran Desert” and when we ascend into this magnificent wilderness area you will immediately see why. Soaring, jagged peaks are blanketed with towering Saguaro cactus; boulder-filled canyons crisscross the landscape to create a maze in which hundreds of unprepared explorers have lost their way; seasonal washes and life-sustaining springs give rise to lush vegetation and critter-rich riparian oasis’s.  We will be traveling trails that were once the home of Native American tribes who fiercely defended this area against the conquest of Spanish explorers. If we listen closely, we might hear their whispers in the wind.  

April 12-14, 2023

November 2-3, 2023

December 1-3, 2023

  • Tents double occupancy

Day 1:Retracing the Steps of Spanish Explorers. Phoenix hotel pick-up will be at 7 am, where we will have an orientation and distribute gear. Once our backpacks are all squared away, we will depart on an hour or so drive to the Peralta Trailhead at the base of the Superstition Mountains where some of the best desert backpacking opportunities exist. Just an hour east of downtown Phoenix, this trailhead quickly transitions us from rush hour to the quiet solitude of the Sonoran Desert. Hiking past towering saguaro cacti, we’ll follow a ridgeline before dropping down into a basin where we set up camp. The total distance for the day will be 7 miles. After establishing our camp, we will enjoy a campfire (USFS restrictions permitting) and a delicious guide-prepared dinner beneath the stars. You will be regaled with part one of the tale of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine, before settling into your warm sleeping bags for a well-deserved night’s rest.

Day 2 Conquer Red Tanks Canyon: After coffee and breakfast in the morning, we will break camp and begin to stretch our legs on the rocky Red Tanks Trail. Now deep in a remote region of the SuperstitionWilderness Area, we’re likely to see some wildlife on our 6-mile trek today;black-tailed jackrabbits, whiptail lizards, red-tailed hawk, and many others call this place home. We will do lunch on the trail to fuel us for a steep climb to a stunning vista where we can take in the whimsical desert terrain around us. Surprisingly lush, the Sonoran Desert has more species of plants and animals than any other desert in the world, including many plants used by native Americans as food and medicinal sources as they traveled this same route. After dinner, you will learn of the fate of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine as the conclusion of this mysterious tale is told.  We enjoy our final night of solitude while listening to the great-horned owl announce sunset and lay our heads to rest under the waxing moon and shimmering stars.

Day 3Whiskey Spring Trail to Peralta Trailhead:  Having settled into a backcountry pace dictated by nature’s rhythm, we enjoy breakfast before donning our packs for our final day on the trail. Today’s 9-mile route completes our loop via the Whiskey Springs Trail. From here we can see Weaver’s Needle, a monumental rock spire leftover from when this region was just a massive chain of volcanoes and cinder cones. By late morning, we drop back onto the Dutchman Trail and retrace our first day’s steps to find the trail’s end at the Peralta Trailhead. We will have a celebratory lunch at a local Mexican restaurant before returning to your hotel. Although we have left the wilderness behind, we take with us the invigorated feeling of accomplishment and lifetime memories of our adventure together.


hotel pick-up

  • Roundtrip transportation from Phoenix
  • Group camping gear
  • Meals: lunch day 1 through lunch day 3
  • Professional guide services for 3-day trip
  • Airfare to Phoenix
  • Pre and post-trip lodging
  • Tip for guide (10-20% of trip cost)