Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Apache Trail

What a trip!! We finally did the Apache Trail. For those of you who have done this, you know what I mean. For those of you who haven't, you are missing something too beautiful for words.
We started off early, with all kinds of cloud cover. All these beautiful days, and we pick this one to do this. We were lucky. By the time we got to Apache Junction we were pretty hopeful that the sun would come out. Fortunately, it did. We did this trip starting with Old Highway 60, turning off at Globe. We turned onto Rt. 188, and soon came the Tonto National Monument. I had told Tom I wanted to visit some of the cliff dwellings here in the west, but I hadn't realized they some were so close. When we saw them from the pull-off, I was so happy.
The entrance to the cliff dwellings was just up the road. We decided to see what it was all about. Tonto has 2 sites. The small, and the large. The large was about a 3 hour trek up the mountain and back. The small site was about one mile up and back down. We paid our 3 bucks each and started off. The climb wasn't too bad. The walk way was paved, and there were benches along the way. For someone who doesn't hike, or walk a lot, it is still fairly easy to do. You just have to stop and rest along the way. The views we had from the top, was worth the climb. It was amazing to think people lived there-way up on a cliff in a cave-like setting. You can see hand prints on the walls where they put the finish on the walls. Fascinating!!!
Roosevelt Lake is the lake you see in the pictures Tom took from the dwellings. It is a huge man-made lake created by the Roosevelt Dam. So beautiful. And so massive. You will also see Apache Lake and Canyon Lake. Canyon Lake is the one with the arch bridge.
While traveling the Trail (Rt 88), you have to be pretty sure you don't get vertigo. At times the road has no guard rails, and it has a sharp drop-off down. How far is anybodies guess. The paved road becomes graded dirt, and very winding with sharp hairpin turns and at times one lane. There are a couple of one lane bridges, also. But the views are the most fantastic and in some cases magnificent. At one place you drive down into a canyon. It was my favorite part. On all sides when you look up, all you can see are walls of rock. We would have stopped to take more pictures, but it was getting late, and we were getting kind of tired. The drive is very bumpy, and terribly dusty. So we just kept on driving till we reached the end. Then it took us another hour to get back home.
The Apache Trail is the route stage coaches took. It also served as a way for goods to get to towns in the mountains, and for trappers and such to get their goods to the cities. The Lost Dutchman Mine is in the Superstition Mountains somewhere, just waiting to be found.
So, if you are looking for a nice day trip in the mountains of Arizona, try the Apache Trail. It comes highly recommended.

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