San Tan Mountain Regional Park – The Ultimate Guide

Sunset view from San Tan Mountains

Are you planning a visit to San Tan Mountain Regional Park?  In this article, you’ll find the ultimate guide for visiting San Tan Mountain Regional Park.

We love Maricopa County’s parks and San Tan Mountain Regional Park is no exception! You can find this park right down the road from the town of Queen Creek. San Tan Mountain offers the Phoenix metropolitan area an accessible opportunity for a quiet escape and a breath of fresh air. It’s one of Maricopa County’s smaller parks. San Tan Mountain touts well-maintained facilities that visitors of all ages are sure to enjoy year-round.

If you’re looking to plan a trip to San Tan Mountain Regional Park, this article has all the details you’ll need to know! Here’s what you’ll learn: the must-see spots, hiking and trails information, office hours, entrance fees, picnic sites, as well as nearby camping and hotel accommodations. 

1. What San Tan Mountain Regional Park is Known For

Spanning over 10,000 acres, San Tan Mountain Regional Park is located just southeast of Phoenix. The park shows off the vast beauty of the lower Sonoran Desert and its surrounding mountain ranges. Not only can you observe lovely views of the San Tan Mountains, but you’ll also have the chance to hike to the top of Goldmine Mountain. 

It’s also known for its multi-use trails that offer bike riding, hiking, and horseback riding opportunities. Most of the park’s trails were constructed on old mining roads. Therefore, most are wide enough to allow for multiple groups and activities to share the wide trails without issue.

Pano from top of San Tan Mountain

Bike Riding

Since all of San Tan Mountain park’s trails are open to mountain bikers, the sport has become popular among locals. There’s a mountain biking group open to the public called the San Tan Shredders. The Shredders meet regularly and invite bikers of all levels to join for fun experiences, including night rides!

Biker in San Tan Mountain Regional Park


The park’s trails are popular among casual hikers looking for scenic hikes at an easy to moderate difficulty level. And rest assured, San Tan Mountain Regional Park certainly has a number of incredible views to offer!

Hiking in San Tan Mountain Regional Park

Horseback Riding

San Tan Mountain allows equestrians to ride their own horses on the park trails. The park map shows visitors where the horseback riding staging area is located. 

Horseback riding in San Tan Mountain Regional Park

2. What Are the Top Spots to See in San Tan Mountain Regional Park?

San Tan Mountain is full of must-see spots that you won’t find anywhere else. Between the photo opportunities, historic sites, and mythical legends, this park offers something fascinating for everyone from the photographer to the historian and even the kids!

The “Hang-Ten” Crested Saguaro

If you’re looking for a photo-op, this one’s for you! The Park is known for being home to one of the few of the crested saguaros within the Sonoran Desert. This crested saguaro is located right off the park’s San Tan trail. Roughly a quarter-mile from where the San Tan Trail and Rock Peak Wash trails intersect. 

Park visitors often remark that this saguaro looks like it’s giving the “hang-ten” sign and pose alongside for a memorable photo.

Hang-Ten Crested Saguaro San Tan Mountain

The San Tan Trail Petroglyph

You can find a petroglyph dating all the way back to the Hohokam era on the southeast side of the park’s San Tan Trail. The Hohokam were indigenous peoples who lived throughout southern Arizona and inhabited the San Tan mountains surrounding the park. This petroglyph is a great opportunity to experience centuries of history without going too far out of your way!

Goldmine and San Tan Trails

Mansel Carter Gravesite

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Goldmine Mountain (the highest point in San Tan Mountain Regional Park) was home to two miners. Their names were Mansel Carter and Marion Kennedy. Visitors can visit their historic graves inside San Tan Mountain Regional Park near the Goldmine Trail. For an awesome view, we suggest you hike this trail up to the top of Goldmine Mountain. It’s a great spot to ponder what life was could have been like for these early settlers. And well, just relax for a bit.

The Man of the Mountain

You might know Mansel Carter better by his local-given nickname, the “Man of the Mountain”.  When alive, Mansel Carter was known as a simple man who treated people and wildlife well. If you’re intrigued, ask a park ranger more about this legend!

Nature Center

San Tan Mountain Regional Park also has a state-of-the-art Nature Center. Here, visitors can observe educational exhibits, purchase souvenirs, ask park rangers for tips and directions, and even see a live tortoise habitat. 

3. Hiking/Trails Information at San Tan Mountain Regional Park

San Tan Mountain Regional Park’s multi-use trails are very popular with the Valley of the Sun locals. They showcase a natural perspective of the Sonoran desert’s native wildlife. The unique plant-life. And for the scenic mountain views. The park’s nine trails are open for horseback riders, bikers, and hikers and range in length from just over a mile to 6.4 miles. Here are some of the local favorites:

Lookout on top of Goldmine Mountain
  • Moonlight Trail – a mild 1.3-mile hike with scenic views.
  • Gold Mine Trail (our favorite) – a 2.5-mile trail that takes you to the highest point in the park. It’s a steep climb but so worth the view. Especially spectacular at sunset, as there’s a bench that faces west to take in all the beauty of the valley.
  • Malpais Hills Trail – a 4.1-mile hike providing up-close views of Rock Peak and the Malpais Hills.  A great choice if you’re hoping to spot some wildlife!
  • San Tan Trail – a 5.1-mile trail that can lead you to the top of the Goldmine Mountains by way of the Broken Lands and Central Valley. 
Malpais and San Tan Trails

Most of San Tan Mountain’s trails are considered to be moderate. This means they are fun for the whole family and allow for an enjoyable sightseeing experience no matter which hikes you decide to take. However, the Arizona sun is intense and there isn’t much shade along the way. Always remember to take more water than you think you’ll need and to tell someone which trail you’ve chosen.

4. Park and Camping Information 

Park Hours and Entrance Fees

San Tan Mountain Regional Park Entrance

San Tan Mountain Regional Park and trails are open year-round. Visitors are welcome from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. 

San Tan Mountain’s Nature Center and ranger office are open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm from October through April. From May through September, the Nature Center and ranger office are closed on Sundays and open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm. 

Visit the park’s website to learn more about entrance fees and annual memberships.

Picnic Information

Hungry visitors are more than welcome to enjoy a packed lunch or snack at one of several picnic tables located near the San Tan Nature Center, Nathan Martens Memorial, or the San Tan trailheads. Restroom facilities are accessible at the San Tan visitor center. If you’d like to plan a picnic to correspond with a fun and educational park ranger activity, we recommend checking out the San Tan Mountain Park event schedule!


San Tan Mountain Regional Park does NOT contain campgrounds or camping facilities. Visitors who would like to camp out after spending a day at the park are encouraged to check out Maricopa County’s Usery Mountain Regional Park. That one offers a campground with 73 individual sites about 40 minutes north of San Tan Valley. 

In addition, Tonto National Forest’s Tortilla Campground also offers camping to the Phoenix metropolitan area. This campground is located roughly an hour northeast from San Tan Mountain Park. 

5. Where To Stay

If you are on the lookout for indoor accommodation near the park, you can travel a short distance to find lovely hotels. Check out Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, or Apache Junction Arizona. Likewise, Phoenix offers an abundance of accommodation choices just a bit further north.

Visitors looking for something off the beaten path should check out some of the Airbnb listings in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley.

In conclusion, no matter how long you stay, you’ll soon understand why San Tan Mountain Regional Park is one of Maricopa’s most prized hidden gems. Upon entering the park grounds, you’ll find yourself surrounded by friendly locals, beautiful views, wide-open spaces, well-kept facilities, and peace and quiet. What’s not to love?!

Beautiful vista in San Tan Mountain Regional Park