On our last full day at Lost Dutchman State Park we took "the girls"
(Holly-pup and Casey) on a relatively quick drive about 20 miles east on
AZ 88, known more famously as the Apache Trail, to the tiny old
mining town of Tortilla Flat:
This scenic State Historic Road winds 40+ miles through the Superstition
Mountains and Tonto National Forest from the city of Apache Junction in
east metro Phoenix on the west to Theodore Roosevelt Dam and Lake Roosevelt
on the east.
Here's a good map I found on the
AmericanSouthwest.net website. I highlighted where
we drove in yellow:
The road was built so supplies could be transported for the
construction of Roosevelt Dam. It basically follows an ancient trail
used by various native peoples in prehistoric times. It was named the
Apache Trail because the local Apache Tribe was the main source of
labor to build the road in the early 1900s.
In subsequent years three more dams were built downstream on the Salt
River, forming beautiful Saguaro, Canyon, and Apache Lakes. Those are
nice recreation areas now. Scenic Canyon Lake is visible from the
Apache Trail a few miles before Tortilla Flat:
It was a beautiful warm, sunny winter day for our drive.
We had plenty of company along the route since it was a Saturday.
This road appears to be very popular with motorcyclists and I can see
why, with all the hills, curves, and great views. It'd be fun on a road
bicycle, too, if there wasn't any traffic!
The western half of the road is paved and easy to drive, although
there aren't a lot of places for a large RV to turn around.
A few miles east of Tortilla Flat, the road turns to dirt the rest of
the way to Roosevelt Dam. The eastern half of the road is very narrow,
with hairpin curves high above the canyons through which the Salt River
flows. That part is not a good road for RVs!
Although 4-wheel drive is not required on the dirt part of the road,
we turned our relatively big pickup truck around about a mile past
Tortilla Flat when we still had a chance.
I took many of the pictures in this entry through the windshield or
side window while Jim was driving, so they may be a bit fuzzy.
A few were taken while I was out of
the truck. The remaining photos are mostly in order going out (north and east)
from Lost Dutchman and back to our campsite.
Headin' for the hills
Our first brief stop was just north of Lost Dutchman
State Park at a national forest wayside where you can view and/or walk
toward Weaver's Needle, a prominent rock formation in the Superstition
Mountains. It's one of those landmarks in the distance that is memorable
and a useful navigational tool.
There are several interpretive panels re:
Weaver's Needle, the geological formation of the Superstition Mountains,
and the history of the Apache Trail:
I got this close-up photo from the wayside. A path will
get you closer to it but we didn't take time to hike it. I might
the next time we're here:
We couldn't see Weaver's Needle from Lost Dutchman State Park but we've seen it in
the distance many times when we've camped farther northwest at McDowell
Mountain Regional Park.
I took this picture two days later when we were hiking at McDowell:
Pretty cool, huh?
Continuing along the Apache Trail, I took photos of some of the
colorful hillsides out the windows as Jim was driving toward Canyon Lake:
Some of the rocks in this section are colored an
unusual yellow-green from either lichens or minerals:
Within a few miles we came to a nice viewpoint above Canyon
Lake. We got out of the truck so we could see the lake better and read
the interpretive signs:
The road crosses a cove on a bridge, then passes a
couple boat launches, a marina, two picnic sites, and a campground.
I got the next three photos of the lake and marina from
the passenger side of the truck as we were driving back to Lost Dutchman
Canyon Lake looks like a nice place to spend some time, especially if
you fish or boat.
A few miles past Canyon Lake is the tiny former mining
town of Tortilla Flat, now a funky tourist stop:
Currently there are a few shops, a restaurant, and some memorabilia
from earlier days. All we did in "town" was stop so I could get a few
pictures. We can't vouch for the restaurant.
I showed two pictures of Tortilla Flat near the
beginning of this entry. Here are a couple more:
Stage coach from the Cox Line
that used to run through here
The first Tortilla Flat
"Accommodation School" built in 1932 is now a museum.
On the drive back to our campground I took a few more pictures
of the varied desert landscape:
Interesting drive! I highly recommend it if you're in the area.
If we had a small 4WD vehicle, I'd love to explore the rest of
the way to Roosevelt Dam. We visited the dam end of the road in March, 2012
when we camped at Lake Roosevelt for a few days:
Sometimes I edit out power lines from scenic photos. I didn't do that with any
from the Apache Trail, partly because I'm in too big of a hurry while writing
this entry and partly because they are "authentic" symbols of this area.
A lot of electricity is produced by the four dams in this area.
Roosevelt Dam was the first large dam built after the National Reclamation
Act was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902.
Prior to that, the Salt River had wreaked havoc downstream in the greater Phoenix
area from periodic flooding. In addition, there had been some devastating droughts.
These and other subsequent water management projects tamed the nation's rivers
and helped to significantly reduce both of these problems by providing a more steady
and reliable source of water for people, agriculture, and other uses.
Next entries: camping and hiking at McDowell Mountain Regional Park,
one of our favorite places in the desert Southwest
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup
© 2018 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil