|The Apache Trail in
Arizona was originally a stagecoach trail that ran
through the Superstition Mountains. It was named the
Apache Trail after the Apache Indians who had used this
trail to move through the Superstition Mountains for
thousands of years.
The current Apache Trail links
Apache Junction at the edge of the Greater Phoenix area
with Theodore Roosevelt Lake, through the Superstition
Mountains and the Tonto National Forest.
Today, much of the Apache Trail
is paved, and the section east of Apache Junction is
known officially as State Route 88. It is also the main
traffic corridor through Apache Junction, turning into
Main Street as the road passes into Mesa, and regains
the Apache name by becoming Apache Boulevard in Tempe,
ending at Mill Avenue. Prior to the completion of the
Superstition Freeway in
the Apache Junction portion of the Apache Trail was part
of US Highway 60, which was rerouted to the Superstition
once it was completed.
The Trail winds steeply through
47 miles of rugged desert mountains, past deep reservoir
lakes like Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. The narrow,
winding road is unpaved from just east of the town of
Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Dam; there are steep cliff
drops. The trail requires caution when driving and it is
not recommended for large RVs, or SUVs. Some RV rental
companies in the US do not allow their vehicles to be
taken on this route.
We begin in Apache Junction.
The Apache Trail follows the course of the Salt River
which ancient peoples known as the Hohokam would travel
along the shoreline through the Mazatzal Mountains for
thousands of years.
In the late 1800's settlers
found the are attractive for farming but the Salt River
was unpredictable and prone to flooding. In 1902
President Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act
and Roosevelt Dam was begun, completing construction in
1911. To bring supplies to the dam site a road was built
following the ancient trail.
A stretch of the road through
the Goldfield Mountains was referred to as the "Little
Alps". President Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "The
Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the
glory of the Rockies and the magnificence of the Grand
Canyon, then adds an indefinable something that none of
the others has. To me it is the most awe-inspiring and
most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever
The drive from Tortilla Flats
to Roosevelt Dam takes about 2.5 hours with an average
speed of about 25mph.
The entire adventure ride
features spectacular scenery to rival any in the state.
The twenty mile graded dirt section of the trail
provides magnificent views of twisted igneous mountains
with dense forests of saguaro and cactus with several
deep blue lakes along the way. Fish Creek Canyon is
perhaps the most awe-inspiring section. The road hangs
on the side of this high-walled
canyon and winds its way
along tremendous precipices that sink sheer for hundreds
of feet below.
along the way: Goldfield Ghost Town a rich gold strike
that led to the establishment of Goldfield Mining
District in 1892, and old buildings still line the dirt
road. The famous Mammoth Saloon, Goldfield Livery, Lost
Dutchman Museum, Coffee Cantina and Bakery, Rock Shop,
Live Rattlesnake Exhibit, and Gold Mine Tours.
Superstition Mountains, 160,000-acre mountain range has
a history of legends, mystery and lost gold mines. The
most famous story associated with the area is the Legend
of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Lost Dutchman
is where numerous hiking trails led into the mysterious
Lake was formed in 1925 when the Mormon Flat Dam was
completed. The beautiful lake provides a refreshing
retreat from the desert sun, has a marina, restaurant
and the well-known "Dolly," which provides
cruises on the lake.
Flat, an old stage stop which was built in 1904 as a
rest area on the way to the construction site of the
Roosevelt Dam. During its boom era, the tiny town had
125 residents, a school, church, post office, hotel,
livery, general store, saloon and a restaurant. In 1942,
a devastating flood swept through Tortilla Flat,
destroying many of the homes and most of the town.
Today, when you drive into Tortilla Flat, you enter
another era -- a remnant of the past. Since the big 1942
flood, a small portion of the settlement has been
rebuilt or refurbished, and six residents live there
year-round to greet tourist who venture down the Apache
This is a trip of a lifetime
and not to be missed