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Apache Trail Scenic Drive - Arizona State Route 88 - Mountain Matron

Posted on December 10, 2017 at 3:10 PM

 Apache Trail Scenic Drive - Arizona State Route 88 - Mountain Matron

     [ Apache Lake - Apache Trail - Arizona ]

AZ88, Apache Trail, the historic stagecoach route (some parts are unpaved) through the Superstition Mountains of Arizona is a memorable and largely scenic one. Set aside a day and explore the route of the Apache Tribe, and modern day travelers.

This is one of the best drives in eastern Arizona. The Scenic Drive will begin in Apache Junction and will end at the Roosevelt Dam as a one-way route. We highly suggest you complete a 120 mile loop versus returning the same way. Set aside several hours for this roadway of history, depending on the amount of time spent and number of times you stop, we suggest 6-9 hours.

The drive from Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction to Theodore Roosevelt Lake although only 40 miles, will take 3 hours. That does not include stops or exploring. Once you’ve reached the Roosevelt Dam and are ready to return, turn south, towards Superior and you can turn the drive into the deserving loop of 120 miles. Before leaving the area completely, stop in at Tonto National Monument. It’s worth the drive all on its own.

From the Dam to Superior (48 miles) with no stops, the drive takes 60 minutes. From Superior to Apache Junction (34 miles) with no stops, takes 40 minutes.

Get an early start, we suggest you reach Apache Junction just after sunrise as to see everything along the way. Many parts of this route are narrow, dirt-filled paths, and one-lane bridges. Any sedan can make this drive but we don’t recommend large trailers or RV’s.

Expect To See

  • Native Arizona Flora & Fauna
  • Goldfield Ghost Town
  • Old Mines
  • Lost Dutchman State Park
  • One Lane Bridges
  • Canyon Lake
  • Tortilla Flat (Town: population 6)
  • Apache Lake
  • Theodore Roosevelt Lake
  • Theodore Roosevelt Dam
  • Arizona Trail Passage #20 / Vineyard Trail #131
  • Tonto National Monument/Tonto Basin

If you’d like to hike Arizona Trail passage #20, find our article about Vineyard Trail #131 - Vineyard Trail.

Parking for the trail is on the northside of the suspension bridge and eastside of the highway.

The list above is in order as you take the drive from Apache Junction, and each location deserves an entire article of explanation. Below we will include a brief description to each.

As you make this historic drive through the rugged mountain ranges and curvy dirt roads you’ll be smothered in views of the most biologically diverse desert of the world. Palo Verde, Mesquite and Ironwood Trees, Creosote Bushes, Barrel Cactus, Agave Plants, and on the Vineyard Trail, Banana Yucca. Let’s not forget the well-known Saguaro. Keep your eye out for bighorn sheep, roadrunners, javelina, eagles, cactus wren, scorpions and rattlesnakes. If you’re really lucky you’ll see a desert tortoise or gila monster.


  • Old West gunfights, gold mine tours, museum of History, and several shops to see at Goldfield Ghost Town
  • 320-acre park at the base of the Superstition Mountains, namesake follows the legendary tale of lost gold.
  • Offering a Marina, Campground, and Amenities, Canyon Lake, the smallest lake of the four reservoirs damming the Salt River is perfect for day-use, overnight stays, and additionally, has boat tours and old fashion ice cream.
  • The final and only remaining Stagecoach stop along the Apache Trail is Tortilla Flat. This noticeably small, unincorporated town is perfect for photos, and lunch.
  • The unmistakably long, narrow Apache Lake offers visitors lodging, camping, and resort style amenities with smaller crowds.
  • Sandy shores, scenic campgrounds, historic recreation, Theodore Roosevelt Lake, the largest man-made lake wholly in Arizona. Lake Powell, and Lake Mead which are respectively shared with other states, are the only reservoirs larger.
  • Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the Roosevelt Dam was once considered the largest masonry dam in the world. The Roosevelt dam was largely responsible for ensuring agricultural growth of Phoenix, Arizona in the 1900’s.
  • Arizona Trail (AZT) is a non-motorized continuous path stretching 800 miles from Mexico to Utah. This passage is a 19-mile introduction through the Four Peak Wilderness.
  • A dynamic view into a thriving civilization of Native Americans who once inhabited the prehistoric cliff dwellings of Tonto National Monument. Many tribes are connected to the Tonto Basin, and surrounding environment. 


Whether in Arizona for business or adventure add this route to your agenda for a sincere introduction to the southwest region of the state and one of the most scenic drives in America. 

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Disclosure: As with any outdoor activity you need to plan properly and adhere to all National, State and City ordinances. We only offer an insight to our own experiences and do not take any responsibility for you or any persons accompanying you on this or any outdoor recreation activities listed on this website or any other Mountain Matron Social Outlets.


Categories: Hiking, Travel

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