There is so much to see and do before the heat of summer returns! If you want only to drive a small part of the Apache Trail (all on a paved road), let us suggest a boat ride on Dolly and lunch at Tortilla Flat. Now get out and enjoy!
Dolly link - http://www.dollysteamboat.com/
Tortilla Flat link - http://www.tortillaflataz.com/
Those still fascinated by the charms and legends of the Old West will enjoy visiting Tortilla Flat, a 100+-year-old stage stop located on the Apache Trail. Tortilla Flat is the smallest community in Arizona, boasting a population of 6. It has also been called the “friendliest little town in Arizona.”
A grassy valley with a small stream running though it, Tortilla Flat is located in the rugged Superstition Mountains. The Flat is located between two mountain ranges along a natural mountain pass. Early Native American people used this trail as they moved to and from the central mountains and the Salt River Valley. Their century old trail is known in history as the Yavapai or Tonto Trail.
It was 1904 when construction crews for Roosevelt Dam built the Apache Trail through this small, green valley. A rest stop for freight haulers on their way north to the dam site was established here and was given the name Tortilla Flat.
When Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911, it became a major tourist attraction. Stage-riding tourists visiting the dam and mail carriers hauling the mail would spend the night at Tortilla Flat as they made their journey over the rough and dusty trail. Some 100 years later, groups of tourists still come to enjoy the adventure and enduring charm found at Tortilla Flat.
Tortilla Flat is located just 2 miles beyond Canyon Lake. Canyon Lake visitors can cruise this Salt River Lake on a replica of a classic American steam wheeler, the Dolly Steamboat. The 90 minute nature cruise is a perfect way to see the big horned sheep, mountain lion and golden eagles that make their home along the lake’s mountainous shoreline.
Once the nature cruise on Dolly Steamboat is over, it is on to Tortilla Flat for the “biggest burgers with the hottest chili” in the family friendly Superstition Saloon. Here real saddles are used for bar stools and the wallpaper is composed of dollar bills stapled to the walls over the years by the thousands of Flat visitors.
After eating, a quick visit to the Tortilla Flat Museum, which once served as the community’s school house, will bring the visitor the amazing story of the Apache Trail. Theodore Roosevelt came by here in 1911; Tom Mix made movies nearby in 1920; Wilbur Wright flew his airplane over the Flats in 1916 and Glen Ford starred here in the movie “Lust for Gold”.
Bring along a few letters and cards for those special people back east and drop them in the town’s mail box. When they are delivered the cancellation stamp will announce “Tortilla Flat, Arizona”. A quick trip to the Country Store for a scoop of Prickly Pear ice cream will bring to an end a perfect day in “the friendliest town in Arizona”, Tortilla Flat.