EXPLORING OUR DESERT LEAS P E E E R CYCLTonto National Forest, Granite Reef Recreation Area
• The Sonoran Desert • Desert Vegetation • Desert Wildlife • Birding • Water Recreation • Native Connections • The Apache Trail • Treasured Trails • Attractions & Outﬁtters • Before You Go… EXECUTIVE EDITOR LAYOUT & DESIGN Michelle Streeter, Mesa The Design Idea Convention & Visitors Bureau PRINTING CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Courier Graphics 120 North Center Street Terrie Gardner, Natalie Harris, ON THE COVER/BACK PANEL Mesa, Arizona 85201 Megan Ricker Saguaro at Superstition 800-283-6372, 480-827-4700 PHOTOGRAPHY Mountain, Desert VisitMesa.com Arizona Ofﬁce of Tourism, Voyagers (kayak), Find us at Julie Foskett, Gary Johnson, Hot Air ExpeditionsThis guide was especially designed with the Mesa visitor www.facebook.com/visitmesa Jim Lawrence, Gary Lewellan, ABOVE and on Twitter @VisitMesa Mark Mabry, and other Canyon Lakein mind highlighting nearby opportunities for our guests selected photographers.to explore and learn more about our treasured SonoranDesert. Our surrounding attractions offer some of the Our gratitude goes out to the numerous organizations who have shared resources and information for the production of this guide including:most knowledgeable resources and experts on our desert Arizona Game & Fish Department Arizona Museum of Natural Historyenvirons and eco-system. For general information about Arizona Sonora-Desert Museum Park of the Canals/Brinton Botanical Garden Arizona Watchable Wildlife Tourism Association Maricopa County Parks & Recreation,exploring the desert during your stay, please contact the Arizona Ofﬁce of Tourism Usery Mountain Regional ParkMesa Visitors Center at 480-827-4700 or visit us online, Arizona State Parks USDA Forest Service, Tonto National Forestwww.VisitMesa.com. Every effort has been made to make this pocket guide to the desert as accurate as possible. The Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau will assume no responsibility for errors, changes or omissions. All rights Published by the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.
Embraced by the Sonoran Desert, Mesa is surroundedby a rich, vibrant and verdant playground for sought-after outdoor recreation. Within minutes from ourcollection of resorts and hotels, guests can immersethemselves into a legendary landscape – a region fullof intrigue and awe that continues to inspire and amazeour guests every day. From hiking and biking to calmwaters and majestic mountains, nearly every outdoorpursuit can be experienced here in the Sonoran Desert.• The Sonoran Desert is located in two states, Arizona and California, and two countries, Mexico and the United States. The entire region is approximately 120,000 square miles.• The Sonoran Desert boasts the richest diversity of plants and animals of all the world’s deserts - well over 2,500 different plant species. This diversity provides habitat for an even greater richness in animal life including more than 350 species of birds that migrate and nest through the region, as well as many species of ﬁsh, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.• More rain falls on the Sonoran Desert than any other desert on earth. The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States and can only be found in the Sonoran Desert. Iconic in its shape due to its many arms, this gentle giant is the symbol of the region and one of many plants in Arizona protected by the Native Plant Protection Act. It takes 50 years before the plant blossoms with the beautiful state ﬂower and approximately 75 years before appendages sprout. With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old and grow to be between 40-60 feet tall. When fully hydrated they will weigh between 3,200-4,800 pounds.
TA KE A P L ED G E TO P RESERV E Arizona’s State Parks offer a Junior Ranger program for young ones. The closest state parks to Mesa are Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park and Lost Dutchman State Park where kids ages 6 to 12 can pledge to do their part to preserve nature. While visiting, ask for a Junior Ranger booklet and complete the activities during your visit. Little ones can then take the pledge, get sworn in and earn their Junior Ranger button. Learn more at azstateparks.com. TemperaturesBoyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Average Average Max. Min. Month Temp °F Temp °F January 64.9 35.6 February 69.3 38.5 March 73.6 42.9 April 83.0 49.5 TO ENJOY THE DESERT IN UNDER 3 HOURS May 92.1 56.8 June 100.8 64.4 Short on time but still eager to know all you can about this exotic terrain? Here are July 104.3 74.1 a few tips on how to soak up some desert August 101.8 72.9 education on a time crunch. September 98.5 65.9 • Sign up for an off-road tour. Expert October 88.3 54.4 guides take you into nearby areas that are November 75.4 42.7 chock full of desert vegetation. Plan for December 66.9 36.8 some tall tales, cactus tasting and critter Apache Trail Jeep Tours Year Average 86.4 52.9 catching! Most tours average 2 hours. • Visit Desert Botanical Garden online (dbg.org) and scour their many digital guides to the desert. Print the version that appeals to you most and head out on a self-guided tour at their unique facility. From wildﬂower listings to trail illustrations, you can pick and choose before you go! • Pair Hohokam history and desert vegetation into one visit at Park of the Canals. At this newly renovated park, you can enjoy a self-guided walk through the Brinton Botanical Garden and read up on clearly identiﬁed vegetation while exploring the remnants of an ancient Hohokam canal. The park is conveniently located near downtown Mesa so access is easy.
Exotic, fascinating and vibrant, cacti anddesert shrubs and trees have a uniqueappearance that has captivated travelers tothis region for centuries. They were usedas shelter, food and fuel and have beenexported around the world. Whetherthey be the wayward joints of thejumping cholla or the delicate shootsof the ocotillo, cacti form a landscapeindigenous only to the Americas. Manyspecies of desert plants not onlysurvive the harsh conditions of thisenvironment but they thrive in sucha climate.AGAVE BARREL CACTUS CHOLLA CREOSOTE BUSH IRONWOODFrom the succulent Larger barrel cacti An open and branching Able to survive without Ranking among thefamily, most popular often lean towards the woody cactus, the water for up to 2 years, most ecologically andspecies include the Southwest giving them cholla’s ﬂowers bloom the creosote bush is one economically importantcentury plant. Desert the name of compass in springtime and the of the most important plant species, theagave is a slow-growing barrel. The yellow fruit grows on the edge and longest living plants ironwood beneﬁts manyspecies and can and red ﬂowers grow of the pads. Cholla in this desert. This other species of deserttake up to 20 years on top which can be is a favorite nesting species is important vegetation. This slowto bloom. Agaves identiﬁed by its barrel place for birds as it to the native peoples growing tree can live upare popular among shaped body and long keeps predators away. as they believe it was to 300 years.succulent collectors and hooked spines. Varieties include chain- the ﬁrst plant createdlandscape designers. fruit cholla and teddy and use it for medicinal bear cholla known as purposes. After a the “jumping” cactus. rainstorm, the desert will smell of creosote, a distinct fragrance.
Each spring, wildﬂowers pave The spring ﬂowering season spans from mid-February to mid-June with a peak Mesa’s nearby hiking trails and from mid-March to late April depending the desert overﬂows with hues on rainfall and temperatures during the of red, purple, orange, yellow growing season. Winter annuals create the and blue – all accompanied vast carpets of color for which the Sonoran by the vibrant green shades Desert is so famous. This event may occur of Arizona’s indigenous desert between late February and mid-April, usually ﬂora. Wildﬂower season varies in mid-March. Shrubs and herbaceous each year and is dependent perennial blooms peak sometime in March. on fall and winter rainfall Cacti, because they store water, are fairly amounts. Blooms are usually Superstition Mountains independent of rain. They bloom well nearly at their peak in mid-March but every year though wetter years produce more ﬂowers. The greatest diversity of spring-blooming can start as early as February. Visit AzStateParks.com/ species can be seen in April. The cactus show RangerCam for updates during season or call the Arizona continues as the abundant prickly pears bloom in State Parks Wildﬂower Hotline for bloom locations, early May, followed by saguaro blossoms from mid- 602-542-4174. As a reminder, picking wildﬂowers is May to mid-June. Trees and large shrubs are fairly illegal and can have harmful effects on the desert dependable bloomers, though ﬂowers will be sparse eco-system. Seasonal activities such as wildﬂower in dry years. Desert tree species bloom in late April walks, guest lectures, and photography outings are and May. Source: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum scheduled at our area parks.VELVET MESQUITE OCOTILLO PALO VERDE PRICKLY PEARThis shaggy barked tree This long, thin and Spanish for green Easily identiﬁable by itsis deciduous. Can grow nearly unbranched stick referring to the broad, ﬂat, green pads,to 55 feet and blooms shrub arises from a tree’s green bark. In this cactus bloomsyellow ﬂowers in the very short trunk. Red springtime, yellow large yellow ﬂowersspring followed by ﬂat, ﬂowers bloom in the ﬂowers bloom followed in the spring, followedsweet seed pods. These spring and provide a by seed pods which by red prickly pearpods can be ground and major source of food humans have been using fruit in the summerused as mesquite ﬂour for hummingbirds. for hundreds of years. months. The fruit andfor cooking. Dried stems are called the tender pads of the latilla (“little sticks” in prickly pear cactus are Spanish) and used in edible and featured in building structures and many recipes. home decor. Century Plant bloom
The Sonoran Desert is home to a diversity of wildlife.There are more than 60 mammals, nearly 100 nativereptiles, 22 native amphibians and 30 native ﬁsh. Manyanimals escape the dry and warm conditions by seekingshade and shelter underground. Look closely for theirsigns such as tracks, burrows, nests and scat.INSECTS & REPTILESCHUCKWALLA LIZARD GIANT DESERT GILA MONSTER GIANT DESERTReaching nearly 16”, this rock HAIRY SCORPION This large heavy bodied lizard CENTIPEDEdweller varies in color based This larger species of scorpion has a proprietary black and May be 8” long, has 42 legs andon the age and sex. When is nocturnal and preyed orange pattern. Currently, is found under rocks and deadthreatened, they hide in the upon by owls and bats. It has they are a protected species vegetation. Bite is painful withrocky crevices, take a deep characteristic erect hairs on its and the only venomous lizard swelling and poisonous.breath and inﬂate their body. entire body and is poisonous. in the United States.BARK SCORPION WESTERN DESERT TORTOISE KINGSNAKEThroughout Arizona and DIAMONDBACK This dome-shaped tortoise can A long, slender, harmless yetalmost always associated RATTLESNAKE be found on rocky hillsides common snake in Arizona.with trees, this is the most Arizona’s largest and most and wash banks. They are able Known for eating many thingsdangerous scorpion of the defensive rattlesnake to survive without food and including rattlesnakes. WhenSouthwest. Its sting might be frequently seen on the trails. water for long periods of time a rattlesnake encounters alife threatening to children They are gray, with faded and when threatened, they kingsnake it will not rattle.and the elderly. Never pick up pattern of diamonds. The empty their bladder to defend Instead it elevates the frontrocks or lean against trees as tail is ringed with contrasting themselves. portion of its body, a behaviorthey are small and hard white and black rings. Listen known as body bridging. Theto notice. attentively for their distinct kingsnake is highly tolerant rattle and if seen, step around of the rattlesnake’s venom them – do not approach. and will bite the rattlesnake behind the head and constrict it until it has died.Big Horn Sheep
THE NATURE CENTER AT USERY MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK Before you go, review this is the newest offering for Mesa-bound visitors partial list of tips for viewing seeking answers about the Sonoran Desert. Inside, wildlife. For a complete list, rangers are on hand to guide guests into the visit the Arizona Watchable wonders of Sonoran Desert wildlife before taking Wildlife Tourism Association at in some unique programming - everything from animal hide-and-seek hikes and scorpion hunts, to www.azwatchablewildlife.org. toddler cruises, creature theater, yoga and even • Be early, quiet, and patient. stargazing in the desert! Of special note are the Most animals are more active numerous desert critters and reptiles on display. For at twilight and dusk than in current programming during your visit, go online to: the middle of the day. www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery/. • Learn to interpret animal signs. Tracks, trails, nests, dens, droppings, and partially eaten plants are among the many clues to what animals may live in the area. • After animals are spotted, don’t alarm them. Talk quietly; move slowly and never directly toward an animal. • Leave pets at home. Nothing will scare animals away more quickly than a dog. Many wild animals can harm pets. • Allow animals to eat their natural foods – never feed wild animals.MAMMALSJAVELINA COYOTE BOBCAT BLACK-TAILED DESERTAlthough they are Similar in size to a Most bobcats weigh JACKRABBIT COTTONTAILpig-like in appearance, medium-sized dog, a between 15-30 pounds Often mistaken for RABBITthey are in the peccary coyote’s coloration is with gray-brown fur, rabbits, these hares are This species resemblesfamily. They have scent gray to reddish brown. faint spots and short primarily gray with a other cottontails, butglands under their long Their characteristic tails. They are only black stripe down their have larger ears. Goodhairs which allow them howl can often be found in North America back, a black rump eyesight, good hearingto rub their scent and heard at sunrise. and generally change patch, and a black tail. and the ability to ﬂeemark their territory. their shelter on a Their large ears help quickly are the few daily basis. them to lose heat which defenses they have. results in the cooling of their body temperature.
Birding is a popular sport in Arizona, whose diverse terrain offers a spectacular playground for more than 350 species. The love for birding can be felt across the state with festivals and programs offered for nature lovers on the quest to capture a rare sighting. Though Southeastern Arizona is widely known for birding, many of the same species can be spotted throughout the Valley’s metro areas including Mesa and the surrounding desert. From hummingbirds and ﬂycatchers to loons, herons and the occasional bald eagle, the treasure hunting in Arizona for birds is endless. Be on the lookout for some of these more commonly reported species during your travels in Mesa and our surrounding Sonoran Desert.NORTHERN CARDINAL HARRIS’S HAWK GREAT HORNED OWL CACTUS WRENMale is bright red with a crest and This hawk is tall, slender, and black This is a large owl with facial disc rich Arizona State Bird. It is large (8”)a black face. The female is gray with reddish shoulders and thighs. red – brown ringed in black, yellow speckled and striped with a longwith some red. They have stout red The tail is black with a white tip eyes, ear tufts, atop head. It often white spotted and rusty colored tailbeaks for eating seeds. Travelers are and base. These social hawks has dark plumage, pale in desert. and white eye line. Its call is a rapidoften surprised to discover that, in often hunt and help at the nest Great Horned Owls are found in every ‘chug’. It nests in cacti; mass of grassthe very different surroundings of in family groups of 3 to 6 birds. habitat within our region and here, with side entrance. Roosting neststhe Sonoran Desert, this common Harris’s Hawks occur in mesquite the Sonoran Desert is a very lively are very important for the security ofgarden bird is abundant — along and saguaro habitats, semi-arid place at night which bodes well for Cactus Wrens.with several other related birds. woodlands, and scrub. this nocturnal predator.GILA WOODPECKER ANNAS CURVE-BILLED PHAINOPEPLAPale brown body, wings and tail HUMMINGBIRD THRASHER The male is shiny black with azebra barred. Male has a red cap. Medium sized. Features include a This bird is pale brown with a long distinct crest, long tail, and redWhite wing patches can be seen in bronze and green back, pale gray down curved bill and golden eye. eyes; white patch on the wingﬂight. Kills insects inside cacti and chest and belly and green ﬂanks. Its call is a loud, sharp ‘whit-wheet’. is conspicuous in ﬂight. Femalecreates cavities for nesting. Gila Male features an iridescent crimson It nests in Cholla or thorn bushes. and immature birds are gray.Woodpeckers eat cactus fruit and red crown and throat; female is Forages on ground tossing aside Phainopeplas feed on insects andresearch suggests that ﬂickers and green crowned and features a gray litter in search of bugs. Curve-billed berries, especially mistletoe, onGila Woodpeckers nest at different throat with some red markings. Thrashers may tear apart Cactus Wren which it feeds heavily when theheights in the saguaro. They mate in open wooded and nests when good nesting sites are at berries are ripe. This helps to shrubby areas. a premium. disperse the mistletoe seed to other host trees. Gila Woodpecker
USERY MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK & NATURE CENTER: Adjacent to the Tonto National Forest and set on more than 3,500 acres at the western end of theBOYCE THOMPSON ARBORETUM STATE PARK: The Goldﬁeld Mountains. Birders will enjoy the Desert Hawkoldest botanical garden in the American Southwest, Trail lined with feeders and the many ramadas and trailsthis 320-acre collection of desert plants is home to for watching. Vehicle entry fee. Call for special eventsincredible bird fauna. More than 250 species and programming. 480-984-0032,have been recorded here with Gambel’s www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery,Quail, Cactus Wren, Curve-Billed Thrashers, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesaand Black Throated Sparrows among the THE RIPARIAN PRESERVE ATmost abundant species, and dozens of other GILBERT WATER RANCH: Nearlylower Sonoran birds can typically be found 200 species have been identiﬁedon a productive day’s walk. Ask for the at this 110-acre wetland wildlifeArboretum Bird Checklist when you visit. sanctuary for recreation, research520-689-2811, www.btarboretum.org, 37615 and education. Features includeHwy. 60, Superior 4.5 miles of trail, the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory and ethnobotanical garden. Call ahead for events and schedule of programs and classes offered year round. Camping on-site. 480-503- Mourning Dove 6744, www.riparianinstitute.org, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, GilbertGAMBEL’S QUAIL ROADRUNNERThese birds are mostly gray, with This is a long bird, about 24” with VETERAN’S OASIS PARK: Featuring a hummingbird anda tan belly, with black spots. The large wedge tail and straight butterﬂy habitat, this 113-acre park offers both lushmale has rust color on wings, pointed beak. It has a streakedchestnut cap, face, and forward brown and white body, colorful wetland and arid terrain. Features include 4.5 miles ofleaning head plume is black. They eye, dark brown tail, bushy crest. trail, wildlife viewing areas, ramadas and picnic areas,must have water daily. Gambel’s When startled it runs very fast and ﬁve-acre “urban ﬁshing” lake. The EnvironmentalQuail can eat insects and succulent (up to 17 mph). Part of the Education Center offers nature-based programs forfruits of cacti to get this water. cuckoo family. birding and other programs. Call ahead for events and schedule of programs and classes offered year round. 480-782-2890, www.chandleraz.gov, 4050 E. Chandler Heights Road, Chandler COON BLUFF AND GRANITE REEF RECREATION AREAS (TONTO NATIONAL FOREST): Located in theCOSTA’S GILDED FLICKER lower Salt River basin these recreational areas offerHUMMINGBIRD Both sexes are brown with dark breathtaking views along the water. This major riverThis“ﬂame-throated” hummingbird bars on the back, black crescentis iridescent green above and grayish on the chest, and a white rump system adds to the overall diversity of the forestwhite below. The males in good patch. The male has a red communities offering corridors for birds that migratelight have an iridescent amethyst mustache. These woodpeckers along the river. Tonto Pass necessary for accesspurple forehead and throat patches. are permanent residents in all and available at nearby businesses. 480-610-3300,The female completely lacks these desert habitats. In the Sonoranpatches. Costa’s Hummingbirds Desert, Flickers build nests in www.fs.usda.gov/tonto, Mesa Ranger Station, 5140 E.inhabit desert scrub communities saguaros. This cactus interior offers Ingram Street, Mesadominated by cactus, ocotillo and a secure environment where the ADDITIONAL SOURCES:chuparosa. It is probably the most temperature is moderated yeararid-adapted hummingbird in around. When ﬁnished with them, Maricopa Audubon Society, www.maricopaaudubon.orgthis region. their nests are used by other birds. Desert Rivers Audubon Society, www.desertriversaudubon.org
N R R I V EBefore heading out to explore the vast Sonoran Desert,take caution. While the desert offers breathtakingscenery, it can also be unfamiliar territory for out-of- F T M C D OW E L Ltown guests not acclimated to the varied temperatures I N D I A N R E S E RVAT I O Nand rugged terrain. Below is a list of tips before you go.ALWAYS PACK WATER. Avoid dehydration by drinkingwater often throughout your hike. A good rule of Fo u n t a i n R D E Hillsthumb is to pack one gallon of water per person for a Fo u n t a i n H i l l sfull-day of desert exploring. Jet Ski Rental V EDRESS APPROPRIATELY. Desert temperatures can hit Fo r t M c D owe l l A d ve n t u re sextreme highs and extreme lows in a 24-hour period. SHEA BLVDWearing layers helps slow dehydration and limits yoursun exposure. Always wear closed-toe shoes. Wearing A L T R I V E S A LT R I V E R P I M A S Ra hat and sunglasses are also recommended. I N D I A N R E S E RVAT I O N Coe c . B lreaf R on uf AAPPLY SUNSCREEN OFTEN. Even in the winter months, S a l t R i ve r Tu b i n g & R e c reat i o nArizona’s direct sunlight can cause severe burns. D G ra n i te R e e f OA USERY PASS R AYHIKE WITH A FRIEND OR IN A GROUP. If heading out IG HWsolo, let someone else know of your plans or alert the S HH BUranger where you plan to hike. POWER ROAD Rio Salado A rc h e r yNEVER STRAY FROM THE DESIGNATED TRAIL. Desert Sportsman Club R a n geterrain is rugged and unpredictable. Most parks offer U se r y M o u n t a i n R e g . Pa r kmaps and marked guides along the trail. Wilderness N at u re Ce n te rareas (Superstition and Four Peaks) do not have marked 202 ELLSWORTH ROADguides along the trail.BE ALERT! The desert is full of critters that will attackif approached. Watch for rattlesnakes, Gila monsters McKELLIPS McKELLIPSand scorpions to name a few. If necessary, make noiseso critters know of your presence. Be mindful of their BROWNsurroundings and treat them with caution and respect. MAINWATCH FOR CACTUS. It is very common to pick up PHOENIX (13 MILES) MESAcactus needles during your hike. Pack a ﬁne-tooth plastic SUPERSTITION FREEWAY SIGNAL BUTTE IRONWOODcomb for removing the needles – never use your ﬁngers! 60 MERIDIAN CRISMONUSE TRAIL ETIQUETTE AT ALL TIMES. Runners andhikers yield to equestrians. Bicyclists should yield to BASELINE 202everyone. Downhill trafﬁc should yield to uphill trafﬁc.When in doubt, give other users the right of way.PACK OUT WHAT YOU PACK IN. Expert guides areavailable to lead hikes throughout all parks in Mesa. LEGENDThere are some outﬁtter guides under special usepermit to guide in wilderness areas.Knowledgeable guides are available to lead hikesthroughout all the parks near Mesa. In an emergency,call 9-1-1. Most parks are equipped to alert servicesand promptly execute a desert rescue.
8 TO PAYSO N 42 2 TO H W Y 8 7 & PAYSO N 143 M A Lone Z A T Z Pine Saddle T H R E E B A R 188 A L W I L D L I F E A R E A M O F O U R P E A K AR IZO 42 9 U S NA N W R o oseve l t D a m 143 T I L TR AI A D L R o oseve l t IN E V i s i to r s Ce n te r R 87 S N E S To n to 104 N at i o n a l BUSH S Monument HIG 88 HW H o r se AY Mesa Dam E A P K Apache S a g u a ro L a ke M a r i n a A C H E L A L a ke Marina A p a c h e L a ke Ranch Fis D e se r t B e l l e Pa d d l e B o at Mormon L a ke s h o re R e s t a u ra n t F l at D a m h S S tewa r t A G U A R O L A K E Cr Mountain Dam C A N YO N L A KE ee S a g u a ro L a ke Ranch Rides D o l l y S tea m b o at A I L R eav i s Tra i l h ea d R k H E T L a ke s i d e R e s t a u ra n t A P A C C a n yo n L a ke M a r i n a & Cantina To n to N at i o n a l Fo re s t G O L D F I E L D S S To r t i l l a F l at N E Saloon & Settlement M O U N T A I N S 88 F i r s t Wate r E R A r i zo n a To r t i l l a D Tra i l I L Tra i l h ea d Ranch 78 W N G o l d f i e l d G h os t Tow n L os t D u tc h m a n O ( se e l e ge n d b e l ow) S t ate Pa r k S U P E R S T I T I S P ro - M a c k South Mining Camp R e s t a u ra n t U Weave r s N e e d l e PE I NS Superstition M u l e Tra i n s RS NTA Mountain M OU M u se u m TI T I O N Apache TH Tra i l KOA D-Spur Ranch EO Pe ra l t a Tra i l h ea d LD GOLDFIELD TOMAHAWK WIDAHO ES 60 T HI GH D W OA R U.S. Bureau AY BASELINE 89 CH RAN APACHE KINGS LTA RO AD of Land 172A JUNCTION PERA Management Wo o d b u r y GOLDFIELD Tra i l h ea d G H OST TOW N 1 Apache Trail Tours 3 57 172 2 Gold Panning 3 Goldfield Livery Besh Ba Gowah FLORENCE 4 Lost Dutchman Museum 5 Mammoth Steakhouse JUNCTION 6 Mine Tours & Train Rides 7 OK Corral Riding Stable B oyce T h o m pso n A r b o re t u m S t ate Pa r k 89 TO F LO R E N C E
Apache Lake MarinaThe average annual rainfall in the desert is 7.74 inches.Traditionally in the Sonoran Desert, heavier rains occurduring the summer months beginning in early July andlasting to mid-September. Cactus, in particular, are soefﬁcient at storing moisture that numerous species cansurvive for years without rainfall. When the summerrains do ﬂood the desert and water is absorbed, theplant swells, expands and contracts like an accordion.The cactus is coated with a layer of wax to lessen theevaporation of moisture. The cactus blossoms thatbloom each spring and summer spend so much of theplant’s water reserve that cacti generally only bloomfor short periods of time and often after a rainfall.Arizona’s lakes and rivers rely heavily on the annualrain and snow season which determine water levelsduring peak recreational periods. Saguaro Lake
Even though Mesa is in the heart of a desert, visitorscan take advantage of the city’s close proximity to awater recreation paradise. There are three lakes andtwo rivers within 30 minutes of Mesa that allow fordesert boating, ﬁshing, rafting, kayaking, water skiing,wake boarding and jet skiing. Or, partake in the ever-popular activity of “tubing”, a leisurely ﬂoat along thecool waters of the Salt River via inner-tube!APACHE LAKE: 17 miles long with secluded coves. Hotellodging, camping, boat rental and storage available. Lower Salt RiverDay use areas on-site. Fees apply. Fish species: BlackCrappie, Channel Catﬁsh, Flathead Catﬁsh, LargemouthBass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye. Apache Lake Marina, USDA FOREST SERVICE,928-467-2511, apachelake.com. TONTO NATIONAL FORESTCANYON LAKE: 28 miles of shoreline, 950 surface As the ﬁfth largest forest in the Unitedacres of water and secluded coves. RV and tent States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited “urban” forestscamping, boat rental and storage available. Day use in the U.S. The Tonto National Forestareas and ramada rental on-site. Fees apply. Depth: 141 oversees all the Mesa-area lakes and the Lower Saltfeet. Fish species: Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow and Verde rivers as well as many streams in the area. ATrout, Walleye, Yellow Bass. Canyon Lake Marina, Tonto Pass, a daily (24-hour) recreation pass for visitors,480-288-9233, canyonlakemarina.com. is required for more than 50 recreation sites in the Tonto National Forest. The Pass must be displayed on visitor’sROOSEVELT LAKE: 112 miles of shoreline and 22,000 vehicle rear-view mirror. The passes sell for $6.00 peracres of surface water. Hotel lodging and RV park, vehicle plus a watercraft use fee of $4.00 per watercraft.camping, boat rental and storage available. Fees apply. Passes are available at 200 locations in the Mesa area including nearby convenience stores and also online andDepth: 300 feet (when full). Fish species: Largemouth by mail. Many of the lakes-area businesses operate underBass, Smallmouth Bass, Catﬁsh, Bluegill, Crappie. special permit from Tonto National Forest. For up-to-Roosevelt Marina, 602-977-7170, rlmaz.com. date information on visiting the Tonto National Forest call 480-610-3300 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/tontoSAGUARO LAKE: 10 miles long and 22 miles ofshoreline. Ranch-style lodging, day use areas andButcher Jones Beach. Boat rental and storage available.Fees apply. Depth: 100+ feet. Fish species: Bluegill,Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catﬁsh,Rainbow Trout, Crappie. Saguaro Lake Marina, 480-986-5546, saguarolakemarina.comSALT RIVER: The closest river to Mesa, most leisurerecreation takes place in the lower and upper portionswhere outﬁtters operate water tours via kayak, raft andinner tube. The river winds through the Tonto NationalForest and offers a convenient day trip for Mesa visitors.Fishing permit required. Day use areas throughout.
Arizona is home to 22 Native American tribes. Each tribe has a unique cultural heritage and storied traditions that offer a rich and diverse experience to our traveling guests. Throughout the stateThe ﬁrst known settlement in the Mesa area was about you will ﬁnd major events,2,000 years ago. An Indian civilization now called exhibitions and festivals celebrating Native Americanthe Hohokam (meaning those who are gone), built traditions including art,an empire that lasted 1,500 years. The agriculturally- dance, cuisine and more.oriented Hohokam engineered hundreds of miles ofirrigation canals, cultivating thousands of acres ofland. Many of those same canal routes are used todaythroughout metropolitan Phoenix. When visiting Mesa, MESA GRANDE RUINS: One of only two remainingyou can learn more the Hohokam and more of Arizona’s Hohokam mounds in the metro Phoenix area, theNative American tribes at these locations: Mesa Grande Ruins temple mound is larger than aARIZONA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: The football ﬁeld in both length and width and 27 feet tallSouthwest Gallery presents information on the ancient at its highest point and remains intact with very fewcultures of central Arizona. The displays give you the excavations that have impacted its integrity. Publicopportunity to walk though replicas of Hohokam access to the Interpretive Trail granted once per yeardwellings, and glimpse artifacts used in daily activities, during annual open house (March) 480-644-2230,such as cotton weaving, jewelry manufacture, pottery www.azmnh.org/arch/mesagrandemaking, hunting activities, food preparation and PARK OF THE CANALS: This newly-renovated 31-acrestorage. The ceramic timeline dramatically displays park features evidence of ancient Hohokam Indianhow ceramics changed through time in the Hohokam, canals dating back to 700 B.C. and an extensive desertAnasazi and Mogollon cultures. 480-644-2230, www. botanical garden with signage. 480-644-2352, www.azmnh.org, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa parkofthecanals.org, 1710 N. Horne, MesaBESH-BA-GOWAH ARCHAELOGICAL PARK: Walk HEARD MUSEUM: Features include 10 exhibitionthrough a 700-year-old Salado Culture pueblo and galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens,view the typical furnishings of the era. Numerous café, art gallery, trading-post style shopping and more.artifacts of this remarkably advanced culture also 602-252-8848, www.heard.org, 2301 N. Central Avenue,displayed in the museum. 928-425-0320, www.jqjacobs. Phoenixnet/southwest/besh_ba_gowah.html, 150 N. Pine St., PUEBLO GRANDE MUSEUM: Dedicated to the studyGlobe Community Center, Jess Hayes Rd., Globe and interpretation of the Hohokam culture. ExploreCASA GRANDE RUINS NATIONAL MONUMENT: the ruin of an 800-year-old platform mound, anThe tallest and most massive Hohokam structure excavated ball court, canal map and full-scaleknown. Designated as a national monument in 1892, reproductions of prehistoric Hohokam homes.the nation’s ﬁrst archeological preserve. 520-723-3172, 602-495-0900, www.pueblogrande.com, 4619 E.www.nps.gov/cagr, 1100 W. Ruins Dr., Coolidge Washington Street, Phoenix
Recognized by the Arizona Ofﬁce of Tourism as one GETTING THERE: To access the 48-mile Apache Trailof the most scenic byways in the state, the historic from Mesa, head east on Main Street or east alongApache Trail, just east of Mesa, was built more than 100 the U.S. 60 to the Idaho Road exit. Off Idaho Road,years ago serving as a main access way to the Roosevelt follow signs toward Highway 88. The trail will weaveDam construction site. Named for the crews of Apache you past three lakes – Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt.Native Americans who helped pave this treacherous Paved road ends at Tortilla Flat. Take caution whilepath, the Apache Trail was completed in 1905 at a cost driving, this largely unpaved trail features numerousof more than one-half million dollars. Today, hitting the switchbacks throughout the entire route that connectshistoric Apache Trail is still one of the most popular Mesa to Globe.day trips for anyone visiting the Valley with invitingattractions lining the trail. As you pass the mysterious APACHE TRAIL ATTRACTIONSSuperstition Mountains and head into the foothills of Apache Trail Toursthe Tonto National Forest, the area continues to pay 480-982-7661, apachetrailtours.comhomage to its Western roots which took shape in the Dolly Steamboat at Canyon Lake Marinalate 1800s. 480-827-9144, dollysteamboat.com Goldﬁeld Ghost Town 480-983-0333, goldﬁeldghosttown.com Lost Dutchman State Park 480-982-4485, azstateparks.com Mining Camp Restaurant and Trading Post 480-982-3181, miningcamprestaurant.com OK Corral Stables 480-982-4040, okcorrals.com Superstition Mountain Museum 480-983-4888, superstitionmountainmuseum.org Tortilla Flat Saloon & Authentic Old West Stagecoach Stop 480-984-1776, tortillaﬂataz.com Superstition Mountains
Hitting the trail by foot offers one of the best ways toexperience the desert ﬂora up close and personal (notto mention fauna with countless species of birds, BigHorn sheep, deer and javelina roaming freely through thelandscape). Mesa is surrounded by hiking trails for all ageswith varying levels of difﬁculty and distances to choosefrom. Though Mesa boasts miles and miles of desert hikingtrails, listed are some of the more popular paths for visitors. Lost Dutchman State Park Lost Dutchman State Park
Trail Mountain Length Level of Difﬁculty SharedName Range (in miles) Distances are one-way UseJacob’s Crosscut Trail Lost Dutchman State Park .85 miles EasySiphon Draw Trail Lost Dutchman State Park 2 miles to Basin/ Difﬁcult 3 miles to FlatironTreasure Loop Trail Lost Dutchman State Park 2.4 miles (Loop) ModerateHawes Loop Red Mountain 3.5 miles ModerateMassacre Grounds Trail Superstition Wilderness Area 2.6 miles Easy to ModerateHieroglyphics Trail Superstition Wilderness Area 1.1 miles EasyPeralta Trail Superstition Wilderness Area 6.2 miles Moderate to DifﬁcultMerkle Trail Usery Mountain Recreation Area .9 miles (Loop) Easy (Barrier Free)Pass Mountain Trail Usery Mountain Recreation Area 7.4 miles (Loop) ModerateWind Cave Trail Usery Mountain Recreation Area 1.5 miles ModerateBrown Trail Four Peaks Wilderness Area 2.0 miles DifﬁcultFour Peaks Trail Four Peaks Wilderness Area 10 miles DifﬁcultPigeon Trail Four Peaks Wilderness Area 1 mile EasyMoonlight Trail San Tan Mountain Regional Park 1.3 miles EasySan Tan Trail San Tan Mountain Regional Park 6.4 miles Difﬁcult USERY MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK: More than 29 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Park trails range in length from 0.2 miles to over 7 miles, and range in difﬁculty from easy to difﬁcult. Trails here are Off-roading is a popular pastime popular because they offer enough elevation to experience spectacular vistas of the Valley. Entry fee. Detailed trail in Arizona and there are many maps available at the on-site Nature Center. 480-984-0032, existing trails and areas that www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road cater to owners and renters of (off Ellsworth Road), Mesa off-highway vehicles (OHVs). LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK: Several trails lead from the Areas near Mesa that offer park into the Superstition Wilderness and surrounding Tonto responsible OHV use are for National Forest. Take a stroll along the Native Plant Trail or sightseeing opportunities and hike the challenging Siphon Draw Trail to the top of the prohibit reckless operation. It Flatiron. Entry fee. Day use and overnight camping available. is advised that you contact the 480-982-4485, www.azstateparks.com/Parks/LODU/index. Tonto National Forest before html, 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction your visit to get an update on SAN TAN MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK: More than eight current trail conditions. miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback • Rolls OHV Area (Mesa), Tonto National Forest, riding. Park trails range in length from 1.1 miles to over 5 480-610-3300 miles, and range in difﬁculty from easy to strenuous. The trails within the San Tan Mountain Regional Park offer a • Bulldog Canyon OHV Area (Mesa), Tonto unique perspective of the lower Sonoran Desert with National Forest, 480-610-3300 wildlife, plant-life and scenic mountain views. Entry Fee. • Desert Wells (Apache Junction), Arizona State 480-655-5554,www.maricopa.gov/parks/santan/Hiking, Land Department, 602-364-2753 6533 W. Phillips Road, Queen Creek Download a complete Arizona OHV guide for TONTO NATIONAL FOREST: Nearest areas for hiking include the Four Peaks and Superstition Wilderness areas. For rules and places to ride from the Arizona Game detailed hiking locations, contact the Mesa Ranger Station. & Fish Department: www.azgfd.gov 480-610-3300, www.fs.usda.gov/tonto, Mesa Ranger Station, 5140 E. Ingram Street, Mesa
Get one-click access to videos showcasing many of the desert adventures featured Lost Dutchman State Park in this guide. Download the free smart phone app at Lost Dutchman State Park Windwalker Expeditions http://gettag.mobi and snap a 6109 N. Apache Trail, 888-785-3382, photo of this tag to view videos Apache Junction windwalkerexpeditions.com of the Apache Trail, kayaking, 480-982-4485, azstateparks.com HORSEBACK RIDES, tubing the lower Salt River, Park of the Canals & Brinton PACK TRIPS & GROUP hiking, biking and so much more. Botanical Garden ADVENTURES 1710 N. Horne Road, Mesa Apache Trail Tours 480-827-4700, visitmesa.com 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, San Tan Regional Park Apache JunctionAdvance reservations are GAME AND FISH 6533 W. Phillips Road, 480-982-7661,recommended for guided tours DEPARTMENT Queen Creek apachetrailtours.comand guests are encouraged Arizona Gameto call-ahead for special 480-655-5554, Arizona Outback Adventures and Fish Departmentprogramming offered during maricopa.gov/parks/santan 866-455-1601, 7200 E. University Dr., Mesatheir visit. 480-981-9400, azgfd.gov Usery Mountain Regional Park aoa-adventures.com & Nature Center Discovery TreksDESERT EDUCATION Bass Pro Shops 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa 888-256-8731,Boyce Thompson Outdoor World 480-984-0032, discoverytreks.comArboretum State Park 1133 N. Dobson Road, Mesa maricopa.gov/parks/usery37615 Hwy. 60, Superior 602-606-5600, basspro.com Fort McDowell Adventures520-689-2811, btarboretum.org GUIDED HIKING TOURS 480-816-6465, Tonto National ForestDesert Botanical Garden (Mesa Ranger Station) Apache Trail Tours fortmcdowelladventures.com1201 N. Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix 5140 E. Ingram, Mesa 480-982-7661, Goldﬁeld Livery at480-941-1225, dbg.org 480-610-3300, fs.usda.gov/tonto apachetrailtours.com Goldﬁeld Ghost TownNature Center at Usery PARKS WITH DESERT TRAILS Arizona Trail Association 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road,Mountain Regional Park 602-252-4794, aztrail.org Apache Junction Coon Bluff Recreation Area3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa Hike In Phoenix 480-982-0133, and Lower Salt River480-984-0032, 877-445-3749, goldﬁeldghosttown.com 480-610-3300,maricopa.gov/parks/usery fs.fed.us/r3/tonto 602-492-MTNS (6867) OK Corral Riding StablePark of the Canals, Brinton hikeinphoenix.com 2655 E. Whiteley St., Granite Reef Recreation AreaDesert Botanical Garden Take A Hike Arizona Apache Junction and Lower Salt River1710 N. Horne Road, Mesa 480-634-8488, 480-982-4040, okcorrals.com 602-225-5200,480-827-4700, visitmesa.com fs.fed.us/r3/tonto takeahikearizona.com
Yoga at Usery Mountain Regional ParkSaguaro Lake Ranch Trail Rides Desert Storm Hummer Tours CANYON LAKE MARINA & CAMPGROUND: 40+ campsites,13020 Bush Hwy., Mesa 866-374-8637, dshummer.com RV sites with water and electric and pull-through, picnic480-984-0335, Fort McDowell Adventures areas, ﬁre ring/grill, shaded ramadas, showers. No dumpsaguarolaketrailrides.com 480-816-6465, station. Fees apply. 480-288-9233, www.canyonlakemarina. fortmcdowelladventures.com com, 16802 N.E. Highway 88, Apache TrailHOT AIR BALLOON RIDESHot Air Expeditions Southwest Desert Adventures LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK: 70 campsites, dump station,800-831-7610, 480-962-6620, restrooms, showers, and group use areas. Fees apply. 480-hotairexpeditions.com yellowjeeps.com 982-4485, www.azstateparks.com/Parks/LODU, 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache JunctionLAKE TOURS Stellar Adventures 602-402-0584, USERY MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK: 73 campsites, RVDesert Belle Paddleboat stellaradventures.com capabilities, water and electrical hook-ups, dump station,Cruise at Saguaro Lake Marina shaded ramadas, picnic tables, barbecue grill, and ﬁre ring.14011 N. Bush Hwy., PERSONAL Restrooms and showers available. Fees apply. 480-984-0032,Saguaro Lake RECREATION RENTALS www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road480-984-2425, desertbelle.com Chester’s Harley-Davidson (off Ellsworth Road), MesaDolly Steamboat at 922 S. Country Club Drive,Canyon Lake Marina Mesa20 miles northeast of Mesa on 480-894-0404, chestershd.comHwy. 88, Apache Junction Pro Mack South Treasure Desert Voyagers Full Throttle480-827-9144, Hunting & Mining Supplies 480-998-7238, Phoenix ATV Rentalsdollysteamboat.com 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, desertvoyagers.com 2330 W. Broadway Rd., MesaOFF-ROAD TOURS Apache Junction Salt River Rafting 480-292-6100, 866-983-7011, 800-425-5253, raftthesalt.comApache Trail Tours phoenixatvrentals.com promackminingsupsouth.com4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, Jet Action Rentals Saguaro Lake RanchApache Junction 2090 E. University Dr., Tempe BUREAU OF LAND 13020 N. Bush Hwy., Mesa480-982-7661, 480-966-3696, jetaction.com MANAGEMENT 480-984-2194,apachetrailtours.com (MINING PERMITS) www.saguarolakeranch.com PROSPECTING 602-417-9200, blm.govDesert Dog Hummer Salt River Tubing Promack Treasure Hunting WATER RECREATION TOURS& ATV Tours & Recreation, Inc. 940 W. Apache Trail,480-837-3966, Cimarron River Company 9200 N. Bush Hwy., Mesa Apache Junctionazadventures.com 480-994-1199, cimarrontours.com 480-984-3305, 480-983-3484, promacktreasurehunting.com saltrivertubing.com