Looking for some of the most spectacular scenery in Arizona, then the Apache Trail scenic drive is a must do. The 39-miles of road, paved and unpaved winds and twists its way with sharp curves and narrow stretches of road along the North side of the rugged Superstition Mountain Wilderness Area passing by the South side of Canyon and Apache lakes. Unfortunately, the unpaved portion which is the Eastern half of the byway is closed due to road damage. However, the drive along the paved section in and back out is well worth the effort and time, where the highway passes over two one lane steel arched bridges with vistas of Canyon Lake and Needle Point which provide for some awe-inspiring photo opportunities of Arizona scenery.
The drive across highway 60 and 188 to reach the Eastern side of Apache Trail where a few miles of paved section remain open provides some spectacular Arizona scenery. The East side of the byway showcases Inspiration Point where the view of Roosevelt Lake with the mountains as a back drop are beyond spectacular. Just a mile in provides a vista of Roosevelt Dam which holds back the lake from the Salt River. Visiting Tonto National Monument just down the street makes the drive even more appealing.
The Tonto basin is very rich in history and has been occupied by numerous types of people for thousands of years with the Salado people leaving behind the largest number of artifacts dating back some 700 years. With only a few modifications made by Archaeologists at the Tonto National Monument to facilitate visitation and safety, the dwelling showcases remarkable architecture by the Salado people. To access the lower cliff dwelling requires a one-mile round trip hike over a paved walkway which is steep with a 350-foot elevation change with stairs to reach the top. However, this dwelling was limited by the size of the alcove which measures 40 feet in height, 85 feet long and 48 feet deep, where each room housed one family and a roofed breeze-way divides the dwelling in half. Even today some of the roofs remain partially intact where the ceilings and walls still bear smoke stains from their cooking fires. In addition to the cliff dwelling, the trail provides some breath-taking photo opportunities of Roosevelt Lake in the cactus laden desert valley below.
At the Western edge of the Apache Trail is Goldfield Ghost Town where one can enjoy the excitement of Arizona’s Wild West. In Goldfield’s heyday in the 1890’s the town boasted 3 saloons, general store, blacksmith shop, brewery, meat market, school-house, and a boarding house. Unfortunately, the gold vein faulted causing the town to suffer a slow painful death. Today the historic buildings along main street are full of gift shops with tours of the gold mine and a narrow-gauge train ride with other opportunities for visitors to enjoy what Arizona’s wild west was like.
Just West of Phoenix in the White Mountains is White Mountain Regional Park, known best for their bike paths and walking trails which range from short easy trails to difficult all-day trails. The two most popular and most walked is the Black Rock Loops and the Waterfall Trail. The Black Loop trail is a.5 mile or a 1.3-mile loop through a Hohokam village with signage’s along the way explaining desert plants as well as the wildlife which live here. The 2-mile round trip Waterfall trail starts on a concrete walkway across the desert floor ending at the midpoint where the Petroglyph Plaza is located, here an abundance of petroglyphs can be viewed dating back 800 years. The remainder of the trail is over loose dirt and rocks before ending in a narrow granite box canton where a refreshing pool of water remains on the floor of the canyon which children love to play in. Unfortunately, the water only tumbles over the cliff wall after heavy rains.