The Apache Trail is one of the most historic roads in Arizona. It is also one of the most scenic adventures especially now that the wild flowers have painted the towering canyon walls and desert vistas with the colors of the rainbow!
The Apache Trail, Arizona Route 88, was originally built beginning in 1903 as a supply route for the construction of Roosevelt Dam. A goodly part of the trail has had little upgrade since that original construction.
It is easy to envision even today wagons full of supplies and being pulled by teams of horses and/or mules slowly making their way along the steep cliffs and canyons that the winding, narrow road follows. President Theodore Roosevelt made this same journey in an open roadster in March 1911 to dedicate the completion of Roosevelt Dam. Little of the natural environment and in some places, even the road, has changed since his daylong journey.
From Apache Junction, the Apache Trail snakes its way for 44 miles to Roosevelt Dam. The first 22 miles are paved and passes by beautiful Canyon Lake and tourist friendly Tortilla Flats. Just north of Tortilla Flats, the road turns into a 22 miles dirt adventure that takes visitors into the stark beauty of the Superstition Mountain Wilderness. This is not a trip for the faint of heart nor is the road wide enough for RVs. Any car or SUV of normal size can traverse the entire 44 miles without difficulty.
We recommend that you travel from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Dam and not come down the trail from Roosevelt Dam. The white-knuckle trip down famous Fish Creek Hill will be more “enjoyable” if you are hugging the mountain rather than on the edge of the narrow, dirt road while other cars are passing.
It will take about 2 hours to travel the 44 miles of the Apache Trail as some twisting sections have speed limits as low as 10 mph. There are numerous places to pull off the trail and fill up the memory chip of your digital camera with the jaw-dropping natural beauty found all along the way.
You will pass beautiful Canyon and Apache Lakes and will end your Apache Trail journey at Roosevelt Lake. Gas and food are available at the marinas of both Canyon and Apache Lakes.
The winter rains have resulted in a spectacular wildflower season that is happening right now along the Apache Trail so there is no better time to get out and enjoy the natural spectacular now on display. This is one Arizona road trip you will never forget!