Apache Trail

Apache Trail, one of the most beautiful drives in Arizona

Apache Trail is an amazing journey located in the US state of Arizona. The track goes through the Superstition Mountains. The road is mosly unpaved winding steeply through of rugged desert mountains and links Apache Junction (Greater Phoenix area) and Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

It’s a real challenging road. The road was named after the Apache Indians who originally used this trail. A drive on the Apache Trail is one of the most scenic drives near the Phoenix area. This well-traveled road affords visitors an incredible view of canyons, geologic formations, desert plants and trees, desert and lake views, and wildflowers in season. The narrow, winding road is unpaved from just east of the town of Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Dam; there are steep cliff drops and little in the way of safety barriers. It's 40 miles (64 km) long. There are many excellent photo opportunities. Springtime is beautiful, especially if wildflowers are in bloom. When it starts to get hot, this can be a nice day trip, if your car's air-conditioning is working well. Your stops to get out of the car will just be shorter. The down side to taking this scenic drive in the summer is lake traffic, camping traffic, and the possibility of breaking down in the Arizona heat. The trail requires caution when driving and it is not recommended for large RVs, SUVs, or caravans. Some large RV rental companies in the US do not allow their vehicles to be taken on this route. The scenic desert drive is open year-round. Plan on about 6-8 hours to complete the journey. It’s a modern driver's dream, with hairpin turns, sweeping curves, and stunning new views around every corner.

Is the Apache Trail paved?

Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and dangerous dropoffs. Much of the Apache Trail is unpaved, with some asphalt sections. It's known officially as State Route 88 or AZ 88 and links Apache Junction at the edge of the Greater Phoenix area with Globe via Theodore Roosevelt Lake, through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest; 40 miles of steep, winding and mostly unpaved road past magnificent scenery of twisted igneous mountains with dense forests of saguaro and ferocactus, and several deep blue lakes. The Trail winds steeply through 40 miles (64 km) of rugged desert mountains, past deep reservoir lakes like Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. 

Is the Apache Trail dangerous?

A traveler on this road must be experienced and completely devoted to safe, slow and obstacle-conscious driving to deter danger. Some passengers may think that the drive up is a bit easier than the drive back. On the way up, although the turns are tight and the road is narrow, at least you have the mountain on your side not the cliff. Obviously, if you turn around and go back the way you came, your return trip might be a bit more harrowing. Note to the driver: keep your eyes on the road, not the scenery. The Apache Trail was constructed in the 1930s to support the development of dams along the Salt River. If you enjoy driving, Apache Trail is a fun trip. If you don't like to drive, don't do it. Most of the roads have a maximum speed limit of 15 mph. Little known tidbit: test drivers from General Motors Proving Grounds used to use the Apache Trail to test tires and vehicle maneuverability. The road is known for its dizzying, narrow road, with drops in some areas of more than 1,000 feet (304.9 m). With such drops, the path can turn deadly.


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