Apache Trail

Apache Trail scenic drives can include much more than just sightseeing, as this former stagecoach route offers a number of interesting attractions along its paved and unpaved stretch. Also known as State Route 88, the Apache Trail begins in the Phoenix area and extends 40 miles east to Theodore Roosevelt Lake. Rising up on both sides of the western part of the trail are the rugged Superstition Mountains, and as these mountains start to give way to the Tonto National Forest, several deep reservoirs provide some tempting recreational opportunities. The scenery is amazing all along the route. For those who like thrills, parts of the road are precariously perched aside steep drop offs. As can be expected in Arizona, a number of cacti can be found along the Apache Trail. There are also plenty of cool geological formations to help keep things interesting.

The Apache Trail starts on the eastern side of Mesa at Apache Junction, and it continues eastward to the town of Globe. Once in Globe, it is possible to hop on US 60 to get back to the Phoenix area, or you can take the trail back. Since the middle section of the Apache Trail is not paved, it can be slow and bumpy going, which is why the completely paved US 60 is often a preferred return route to the Phoenix area. It takes about five hours to drive the 40 miles from Apache Junction to Globe, and exercising a certain amount of care along the way is the unwritten code. There will likely be other vehicles on the trail at any given time, and the steep drop offs in parts deserve a certain amount of respect. The faint of heart might leave the driving up to someone else, and they might also sit in the middle of the vehicle so they don't get a true idea of just how stomach-churning some of the drop offs can be.

The Apache Trail winds through some of the best scenery in central Arizona, and depending on how much time drivers have, there will be some interesting places to stop along the way. The historic town of Goldfield is one of the first attractions along the road when heading east from Apache Junction. As is true of Jerome, Goldfield markets itself as a ghost town, and it has a rich mining history. For anyone interested in Apache Trail tours, it is possible to enjoy a mine tour in Goldfield, and if nothing else, you can check out the town's shops and restaurants. After breaking in Goldfield, anyone driving along the Apache Trail might park the car at the Lost Dutchman State Park. Found in the scenic Superstition Mountains section, this state park offers an array of tantalizing hiking trails, not to mention some picnic sites that are worth taking advantage of.

Continuing east past the Lost Dutchman State Park, the picturesque Canyon Lake region unfolds, dazzling the eye and tempting drivers to stop again. As is true of the other lakes along the way, Canyon Lake was formed as the result of damming, and it is quite deep. This allows for boating opportunities, and it is worth noting that there is an onsite marina. Twisting ravines and fascinating rock formations largely characterize the Tonto National Forest area, and many Canyon Lake visitors choose to take it all in from the deck of a boat. If you don't have your own boat, you can rent one at the marina. It is also possible to take a steamboat cruise on Canyon Lake for more options for Apache Trail tours.

Both the Lost Dutchman State Park and Canyon Lake offer campgrounds and can make excellent places to break for a night or more. There are some hotels near Apache Trail Arizona, but for some, sleeping under the stars helps to complete the adventure. Not long after you pass through the Canyon Lake area, you will come to the tiny town of Tortilla Flat, where it is possible to stop for some snacks or a quick meal. Just after the tiny town of Tortilla Flat is where the road turns to dirt, and following along the dirt stretch is the Apache Lake. For those who are interested in hotels near Apache Trail Arizona, the Apache Lake Marina and Resort provides a cheap motel that can help travelers stay on top of their lodging budgets. Kitchenette suites are available upon request at the Apache Lake Motel, and each and every room features air conditioning and cable TV.

The dirt portion of the Apache Trail extends over to the Roosevelt Dam, which was built back in 1911 and deserves a look. Where the trail turns back into a paved route, Roosevelt Lake begins, and this is where a small dirt road veers off to the Tonto National Monument. Taking the side road to this monument is popular, as there are some interesting Native American ruins to view. The Indian cliff dwellings are carved out of the rock, and they look out over Roosevelt Lake. Visitors can hike the trail to the ruins and explore them if they please.

When it comes to the Apache Trail tours, the Jeep tours figure among the most popular. These tours often combine some fun 4X4 driving with some hiking and general sightseeing. Full day excursions can be booked, as can half-day excursions, so travelers can choose accordingly. If you prefer going it alone, it is worth noting that RVs are not the recommended vehicles of choice. In fact, the nation's largest RV rental company does not allow renters to take the RVs on the dirt portion of the Apache Trail.

While camping is possible at various points along the Apache Trail, many travelers will prefer a hotel or motel room. The bulk of the hotels near Apache Trail Arizona can be found at the starting and ending points, or Apache Junction and Globe. These are low-cost lodging establishments, and many come in the form of chain brand hotels, such as the Best Western Apache Junction.

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