Apache Trail is one of the most beautiful drives of Arizona

Apache Trail is the name of a scenic desert drive located in the south-central part of the U.S. state of Arizona. It’s said to be one of the most scenic drives near the Phoenix area.

Apache Trail

How long is Apache Trail?

Running though Gila, Maricopa and Pinal counties, the road, also known as State Route 88 or AZ88, is 62km (39 miles) long. It runs from Apache Junction (Greater Phoenix area) to Theodore Roosevelt Lake. Most of the road has a maximum speed limit of 15 mph. Test drivers from General Motors Proving Grounds used the Apache Trail to test tires and vehicle maneuverability.

When was Apache Trail built?

Set high in the Superstition Mountains, the scenic road was constructed in 1904 to provide construction access for the Roosevelt Dam, which was completed in 1911.

Is the Apache Trail AZ open?

Tucked away in the Tonto National Forest, the scenic desert drive is open year-round running through canyons, geologic formations, desert plants and trees, with desert and lake views. The road has been mostly closed since 2019, because of landslides, fires and floods. A few parts of the road are completely closed (between Fish Point and the Apache Lake Marina) or open to foot traffic only (from the marina to Roosevelt Dam).

Is Apache Trail paved?

The road is mostly unpaved, with some asphalt sections. It’s navigable by most passenger vehicles and winds steeply through of rugged desert mountains. The road was named after the Apache Indians who originally used this trail.

Is it safe to drive the Apache Trail?

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 with steep cliff drops and little in the way of safety barriers. 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 road is known for its dizzying, narrow road, with drops in some areas of more than 1,000 feet (304m). With such drops, the path can turn deadly. 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. Certain parts of the trail are susceptible to flash flooding.

How long does it take to do the Apache Trail?

To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 1.5 and 2 hours. This well-traveled road runs through some of the most awe-inspiring country in Arizona and affords visitors incredible views. If you enjoy driving, it is a fun trip. If you don't like to drive, don't do it. 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 road travels through magnificent scenery of twisted igneous mountains with dense forests of saguaro and ferocactus, and several deep blue lakes.