When dining and dancing under the tropical stars doesn't fit the vacation budget, setting your sights close to home can be just as much fun. Just to escape from the all too familiar for a single day is refreshing and visiting places you haven't been in years (or better yet never before) an adventure,
For instance, when was the last time you went on a real hike? Not somewhere looking down on roof tops and buildings but in a genuine Wilderness setting where you can believe you are far off from civilization? One is only a short drive from your door in the Lost Dutchman State Park, just outside of Apache Junction on Hwy #88.
In the middle of the Superstition Wilderness, rising up the mystical Superstition Mountains themselves, the Lost Dutchman Park offers a variety of trails from the short & easy to the vertical and hard. With the Superstitions the second most recognizable landscape in Arizona (preceded by only the Grand Canyon) any trail you select will be spectacular. Campgrounds are available if you wish to hear the coyotes howling under the stars yet even a few hours of wandering the Parks maintained trails leaves you reluctant to go back to the traffic and noise of the e cities.
What it will do is give you an appetite. By good fortune, just a short distance from the Park's gates is the road to the Mining Camp Restaurant with old fashioned, cook house flavor seldom tasted since the hey-day of the areas gold mining in the 1890s.
Established in 1961, the Mining Camp is an authentic replica of the cook shanties that fed rock hard miners - and in portions that would satisfy the hardiest of them. Today's diners sit at t he same long tables, served off tin platters of home roasted stuffed chicken in gravy, boiled ham, BBQ ribs, baked beans, coleslaw and the Camps famous fresh loaves. Each table has its own antique coffee pot which never goes empty and the dessert of the day piled high on the trays. Eat as much as you like for it will keep coming.
Nor do you have to get your own gold mine to pay the tab. Adults eat for $21.95 and Seniors over 60 for $18.65. The prices go down for kids - teens 13 thru 15 for only $13.95 with age groups and prices heading downhill until those 4 and under eat for free. If you prefer Steak or Prime Rib instead of all the fixings, it starts at $13.95. Even allowing for tax & gratuity, people waddle off happy and satisfied - enough that reviews consistently rate the Mining Camp four of five stars!
The Ming Camp's hours are Mon-Sat 4:00pm to 8:00pm with Sunday hours Noon to 8:00pm. You need no reservations (unless you are planning a large group or private banquet) but remember the Camp is a seasonal one, open only through November 1st to May 31st.
To get to the Mining Camp follow #60 east to the Idaho exit in Apache Junction and take a left towards where Idaho intersects with #88. Take a right on 88 towards Lost Dutchman State Park. Mining Camp Road is clearly marked and is just before both Goldfield Ghost Town and the Park entrance itself. The exact address is 6100 E. Mining Camp Road.
The Mining Camp may be reached by calling 480-982-3181 or visiting www.miningcamprestaurant.com for a directional map and complete information.
For trail maps and other information concerning Lost Dutchman State Park visit the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce at 537 W. Apache Trail or phone them at 480-982-3141. Their website is www.apachejunctioncoc.com.