Originally posted by LKMote:
If you don't mind driving to Apache Junction you can visit the Goldfield Ghost town
as well as see the Superstitions.
Hey, I LIVE in Apache Junction! Small world. ;)
I wholeheartedly second Superior (even further East of here), and even into Miami/Globe as a great area -- lots of contrast; beautiful scenery, and some of the most run-down, sad and abandoned buildings (and entire streets) you've ever seen. A couple of really old cemeteries on the way out there, too. Copper mines, lots of crazy stuff in the middle of nowhere.
If you're looking for desert flora, I'd recommend the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (East of here, between AJ and Superior).
Here in AJ there are tons of incredible hiking areas all around (and into) the Superstition Mountains (I live near the Southwest base myself). Lost Dutchman State Park is a great starting place. I've got the skinny on a good many more "less traveled" places out here, too -- PM me if you're interested. Depending on how much you want to hike, I know a couple of places you can get to and you'll swear you are on another planet...
I haven't been there yet, but if you'd rather head a little North on 17, Crown King is supposedly "the oldest living ghost town" or something like that. A bit touristy, but I have a friend who loves that area. Here you go -- Crown King, Arizona - Welcome to a Living Ghost Town!