History & Heritage Experiences
One of the most popular day trips for anyone visiting Mesa is along the historic Apache Trail through the mysterious Superstition Mountains and into the foothills of the Tonto National Forest Forest – the fifth largest forest in the United States. To this day, the area continues to pay homage to its Western roots which took shape in the late 1800s. On this scenic drive guests will encounter an authentic old west stagecoach stop, a ghost town, the famous Elvis Presley Chapel, and the majesty of a mountain lake, all nestled in the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape that captures the true essence of Arizona.
SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN MUSEUM – 1 HOUR
Arizona has been the backdrop to hundreds of Hollywood Western movies and television shows. Visitors can tour the original buildings for Apacheland Movie Ranch including the Elvis Presley chapel in the movie El Charro. While visiting, be sure to view the collection of Lost Dutchman Mine maps dating back more than 100 years.
GOLDFIELD GHOST TOWN – 1 ½ HOURS
In its heyday after the first gold-strike in 1892, Goldfield Ghost Town was a busy bustling little outpost perched atop a small hill between the mighty Superstition Mountains to the east and the Goldfield Mountains to the west. Today, visitors can walk down Main Street, explore the many shops and historic buildings and tour the historic Mammoth Gold Mine. Activities include the Superstition Zip Line, the Mystery Shack, and hop aboard the train at the Goldfield Train Depot, featuring a narrow-gauge railroad that takes visitors on a fun ride around the town.
ARIZONA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY – 2 HOURS
The Southwest Gallery presents information on the ancient cultures of Central Arizona including the Hohokam, Anasazi and Mogollon cultures. Enjoy intricate displays with dwellings and artifacts including jewelry manufacture, pottery making, and hunting activities. Other galleries feature dinosaurs, Arizona’s cosmic night skies, and geology.
MESA GRANDE CULTURAL PARK – 1 HOUR
This ancient Hohokam mound features an interpretive trail. The archaeological staff of the Arizona Museum of Natural History have helped preserve and develop the Mesa Grande Cultural Park, which is estimated to date to A.D 1100-1450. Guided tours and viewing archaeological digs available upon request. You can also learn about Arizona’s ancient canal systems and aqua ducts built by the Hohokams and how the desert thrives to this day because of their engineering.