When you plan your house buying trip to the Scottsdale area, set some time aside in your schedule to take a day trip to The Apache Trail. The trail starts in Apache Junction, just 45 minutes southeast of our Scottsdale office.
The Apache Trail is part of the Apache Trail Circle surrounding the Superstition Mountains. Some sources state that the Superstition Mountains and surrounding area are the second most photographed landmark in Arizona next to the Grand Canyon.
The Apache Trail (Highway 88) was built in the early 1900’s as a construction road from Mesa to the site of the Roosevelt Dam. The trail also served as the main thorough-fare for the building of the Horse Mesa and Mormon Flat Dams downstream from the larger Roosevelt Dam.
The first automobile traveled the full span of road in August, 1925. In 1988, the trail became the first designated scenic road in Arizona.
When you arrive in Apache Junction you’ll notice just how rural the area is, with a gas station or two and a diner. As you follow State Route 88, you’ll arrive in Goldfield, a gold-mining town that was run by Mammoth Mines from 1892 to 1896 producing $3,000,000 of bullion in the day.
Today, Goldfield is a tourist attraction and ghost town. You can also arrange for horse back rides, helicopter rides and jeep tours of the area when you arrive in Goldfield.
A few miles from Goldfield you’ll find Lost Dutchman State Park. Travelers can do long or short hikes from this spot and camp sites are available for a fee.
Once leaving Lost Dutchman you may notice there are no roadway advertisements or billboards; that’s because commercial signs are prohibited on the Apache Trail. A few miles north and east you arrive at Government Well, which was originally a materials staging area while dams were under construction.
As you wind your way past Government Well you’ll come to Canyon Lake. The scenery on this portion of the road is just a prelude to the beauty ahead of you. The volcanic rocks across the trail are estimated to be 29 million years old.
Canyon Lake was formed as a result of the building of the Mormon Flat Dam. It’s rare to see such a large body of water in the middle of the desert. It is an awe-inspiring sensation.
Canyon Lake has a marina, restaurant and the steamship “Dolly”. To see the area from a different point of view, take a ride on “Dolly”.
A couple of miles down the road is Tortilla Flat, another staging area for the dam. It was built in 1904. Today, Tortilla Flat is a great place to stop for lunch and do a little shopping.
Tortilla Flat restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner; and great burgers. The walls are lined with signed dollar bills from international patrons who have visited the diner over the years. Oh, and the bar stools, well they are saddles! Really a comfy way to enjoy your meal.
The road gets more interesting after Tortilla Flat. It turns from paved road to a well-maintained dirt road and winds its way through the remainder of the trail.
It is said that the Lost Dutchman Mine is near this area, but as its name reflects, the mine is still lost.
You’ll start to notice small roads shooting off the main trail. These roads are drivable and hikable and offer amazing views of the rocks, lakes and desert. Many horse enthusiasts trailer their horses up these side roads and park at trail heads in the mountains. Some of these roads are one-lane roads with pull outs for passing.
Fish Creek Hill is the next notable area along the Apache Trail. The uphill grade is steep at Fish Creek and the downhill side is a 10% grade. Steady as you go! Car manufacturers have used this portion of the trail as a testing ground for more than 100 years.
Several miles past Fish Creek on your right there’s a sign for the Reavis Ranch Trail Head. In 1910 a group of investors attempted to develop the area in hopes of having a summer resort.
The resort never came to fruition, however, the Boy Scouts of America have had a camp in this area since the early 20’s. Again, the views are absolutely second to none.
A short distance from Reavis, up the hill, you’ll see the lake that was formed when Horse Mesa Dam was built. Aptly named Apache Lake you can see the Four Peaks and Goat Mountain ranges from this area.
Apache Lake is home to another marina and restaurant. You can rent a boat and fishing poles and hope for bites from the small mouth bass that populate the lake.
Take time to enjoy the mountains and vistas on the last 14 miles of the Apache Trail. There are incredible scenic views, a plethora of desert and forest fauna and amazing peace and tranquility – think about the home you’re getting ready to make an offer on that you found with The Matheson Team. Your next stop will be the Roosevelt Dam.
Roosevelt Dam was dedicated and named for President Theodore Roosevelt. At the time, it was the largest masonry dam in the world. It was reconstructed to a more modern standard in the 1990’s and over 80 feet added to its height.
This is another great place to get out of your car and take a peek at the area. You can view the dam and also Roosevelt Lake which is the largest lake whose boundaries are totally within the state of Arizona.
After Roosevelt Dam, we recommend taking Highway 188 north toward Payson. This will give you a more complete feel for the various terrains in Arizona. Follow Highway 188 to Highway 87. Once you take the turn south onto the scenic Beeline Highway (Route 87) you’ll be on what is one of the most beautiful highways in the country.
When you arrive at Shea Boulevard, near the Fort McDowell Casino, turn right and take that back to the 101. You’re back in Scottsdale, and your Scottsdale Real Estate experts will be here for you to help finalize the offer on your dream home.
We are your go-to resource for Scottsdale real estate and community information. Subscribe to our Blog to keep up-to-date on the Scottsdale area.
Reach out to us for more information.
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255