Superstition Mountains: Hiking Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

Hike two icons of the Southwest, the Sonoran Desert and Superstition Mountains, where you’ll join local experts to learn the region’s human, natural and geological story.
Rating (4.82)
Program No. 19723RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

With the Sonoran Desert’s iconic cacti and canyons peppering the landscape and rugged trails stamped with dusty footprints, the Superstition Mountains are just as interesting as the mysteries that surround them. As legend has it, during the gold rush, German immigrant Jacob Waltz found a wealth of gold in the area. To this day, many have tried to find his hidden mine but its whereabouts still remain unknown. Hike desert trails alongside experts to find the true treasures of the Superstition Wilderness Area – its fascinating geology and human history. Though you may not stumble across Waltz’s wealth, you’re sure to discover a goldmine of natural wonders in the southwest Arizona landscape.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Spend five days exploring the unique and diverse ecosystems that exist within the Sonoran Desert and Superstition Wilderness areas.
  • Discover the geology, desert ecology and human history of the area alongside local experts.
  • Cap your week with a one way cross-country trek through streamside riparian vegetation and the upland desert’s famous Cholla and Saguaro cacti “forests.”

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water
by Reisner, Marc
The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--and Eden that may be only a mirage. 608pp
Arizona: A Cavalcade of History
by Trimble, Marshall
During America's first 100 years as a nation, pioneers moved ever-westward to new frontiers. When it became too crowded or the soil was mined out, they moved on to virgin land. Those days are gone forever. We have to learn to live with the problems we create. The knowledge gained from studying the mistakes of the past can help provide a better future. Will Rogers said it best: "The Indians never got lost because they were always looking back to see where they'd been." 368pp
A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
by Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)
"Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.
The Southwest
by Lavender, David
A historical and cultural overview, including discussions of present-day racial, conservation, and economic problems. Easy reading, fascinating history. 364pp
The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons
by Powell, John Wesley
Full text of Powell's 1,000-mile expedition down the fabled Colorado in 1869. Superb account of terrain, geology, vegetation, Indians, famine, mutiny, treacherous rapids, mighty canyons. 240 illustrations. 432pp

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