Do you want to experience the Southwest? I mean the real rugged Southwest? Well this is the place for you! It’s the Apache Trail that runs through the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.
The Apache Trail in Arizona was a Stagecoach Trail that ran through the Superstition Mountains. It was named the Apache Trail after the Apache Indians who originally use this Trail to move through the Superstition Mountains. It is located in the Tonto National Forest and the majority of the Apache Trail remains unpaved, mostly a bumpy , rugged dirt road that is 40 miles running through desert mountains past Canyon Lake and Apache Lake all the way to Roosevelt Dam. There are steep Cliff drops and not too many safety barriers, ( I would recommend an SUV or truck) but if you want adventure and a great Southwest experience, you need to go on this Trail!
The first time I went on this rugged road, I was with my family and we started at the Roosevelt Dam and worked our way going west. I was quite surprised how many people were pulling trailers and boats, (as it happened to be a Saturday) because at times, the road turns into a one-laner and somehow you have to manage to squeeze by each other.
It was later in the day, and the sun was turning to a soft golden hue as we drove past Apache Lake. There are a lot of neat cliffs surrounding the lake and because of the late day sun, the rock on the cliffs turned to a pretty golden red color. It is a popular Recreation destination with a Lake Marina & Resort which offers some amenities there including motels, RV park, restaurant , bar and a general store.
As we kept driving there were a few steep drop offs, we then soon reached a beautiful, interesting canyon called Fish Creek. This Canyon reminded me of a mini Zion but with saguaros. This would be a good place to stop and get some photos as it is a 360 view of different shaped Canyon walls, Saguaro cactus and red rock. There is even a small bridge that goes over the creek which most of the time is dry unless there has been recent rain or if it happens to be monsoon season. I have since gone back to Fish Creek to do a small hike close to the bridge that crosses the creek bed. It was mostly climbing and scrambling rocks, but it was in the fall and the leaves were quite pretty at that time. As we left Fish Creek, we drove up a really steep bumpy, windy road . At the top we stopped and got a whole view of the Apache Trail. This is quite incredible to see the the road and puts into perspective how vast that area really is. The road continues a little ways and there is a area with parking at the top to stop and take a bathroom break, or walk out to the edge of the canyon and take the views. The canyon in this part is mostly yellow colored as it is filled with Lichens which are algae/fungi like plant that grows on the rock adding color and depth to the rock.
Just a few more miles heading west, we reach a paved road and decide to stop at Tortilla Flats , which consists of a gift shop, restaurant, ice cream and treat shop, plus some historic original buildings and history from the trail and the lost Dutchman. This would be a good time to stop, get out and stretch your legs and grab a treat.
The last part of the road winds down to Canyon Lake which is a stunning Lake with large Canyon walls. They have a boat tour there at Canyon Lake called The Dolly Steamboat which offers a few different types of boat tours http://www.steamboatdolly.com .I have yet to take a tour, but it goes deep into the lake through the canyon walls. I hear if you’re lucky, you caneven spot bighorn sheep on the cliffs!
Canyon Lake also has a marina, campgrounds and lots of view points to stop and take some great photos. Some or wine d Road and you are back to the town of Apache Junction which is approximately 30 miles from Phoenix.
If this all seems great but you don’t want to drive the rugged road, there are tours http://www.apachetrailtours.com that a person can take on the Apache Trail with guides that will tell you all about the history and stop at great view points to take photos. That just might be the way to go if you want Adventure, but you would like someone else to do the hard part! All in all, it is worth the effort to experience a little bit of history in the Southwest!