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Apache Trail Scenic Byway

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Quick Facts
Designation: USFS Scenic Byway
Fees: There are no fees along the byway proper but there
Length, One-Way: 41 Miles (68.33 Kilometers)

General Information

Description - The Apache Trail Historic Road was used by Salado Indians as a migration route. The route follows the Salt River and is near the Roosevelt Dam and Superstition Wilderness area, and was designated a historic road on June 20, 1986, by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Attractions - The Apache Trail Scenic Byway is known for it's Historical, Natural, Recreational and Scenic Attractions. This historic road has some of the most rugged terrain in Arizona. The land surrounding the road rises steeply to the north to form the Four Peaks Wilderness area and to the south to form the Superstition Wilderness area. Steep-sided canyons, rock outcroppings and magnificent geologic formations are all along the road. Water plays a major role in creating the beauty of the area and it also provides numerous opportunities for recreation. Fish Creek Canyon is perhaps the most awe inspiring section. The road hangs on the side of this high walled canyon and winds its way along tremendous precipices that sink sheer for hundreds of feet below.

The first part of the Apache Trail climbs a hairpin road through the desert, revealing how the Sonoran Desert survived for a millennia by traversing along the path to the Salt River, and then along to Theodore Roosevelt Lake. The paved portion of this road goes past a ghost town, and Canyon Lake, which offers first-rate fishing, mostly for bass and catfish. The upper stretches offer a scatter of camping spots and lovely cliff-side inlets. The upper lake also hides Skeleton Cave, the site of a grim battle in 1872. There, a cavalry patrol trapped a band of Yavapai Indians during the infamous Tonto Basin War.

Recreation - Take advantage of the several opportunities to camp along this road, and five miles north of Apache Junction is the Lost Dutchman State Park, where not only can you camp and picnic, but you'll also find trails leading into the Superstition Wilderness. The western slopes of the Superstitions have some of the most spectacular wildflower blooms in western Arizona, with Mexican gold poppies, blue lupine, and purple owl clover. Although not as frequently visited, Apache Lake offers excellent fishing and some of the best camping in central Arizona. When the lake is full, it stretches for 17 miles and measures 266 feet deep. The water supports the area's wildlife, including deer, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, ringtails, mountain lions and bighorn sheep.

Climate - The climate of Arizona is as diverse as it's landscape. Much of the southern half of the state and lower elevations have a desert climate. Winters in this area bring beautiful weather, with mild warm days (60- 70F) and cool nights (40's). Summers can be extremely hot with daytime temperatures of 100-115 degrees, and evening lows in the 70's to 80's. The higher elevations receive more precipitation, some in the form of snow during the winter months. The mountainous areas experience cooler temperatures with cold winter months. Dress in layers for your travels in this state of varying layers and be prepared for cool temperatures in high elevations.

Location - Apache Trail Scenic Byway is located in southcentral Arizona, just east of the Phoenix metropolitan area. From Phoenix, travel south on Interstate 10 and turn east on US Route 60. At Apache Junction head north on State Route 88, the Scenic Road. The Apache Trail Historic Road travels northeast from Apache Junction on State Route 88 near the Salt River and ends once it meets State Route 188.

Directions from : The road itself:
The Apache Trail Historic Road travels northeast from Apache Junction on State Route 88 near the Salt River and ends once it meets State Route 188.
How to get to the road:
From Phoenix, travel south on Interstate 10 and turn east on U.S. Route 60 and at Apache Junction head north on State Route 88, the Scenic Road.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Steve Harrison (Richmond, VA)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: If you want to take a day trip from Phoenix to see the beauty of the Arizona Desert, this is the drive for you. Plan on making a day of it, we found it enjoyable to stop, take pictures and generally not be in a hurry. Make sure you gas up before leaving town, no gas stations along the way (which is a good thing). We went during the week and there were very few people. Well worth doing!

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Scenic Driving Apache Trail Scenic Byway
ICON Viewing Scenery Apache Trail Scenic Byway

More Information

Additional Information:
Arizona Scenic Byways - Arizona offers one National Scenic Byway, the Kaibab Plateau-North Rim Parkway, and 17 state and National Forest designated scenic byways.

Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.


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