Apache Trail Tours, Apache Junction

#5 of 13 in Things to do in Apache Junction
Off-Road Tour · Outdoor Activity
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The existing Apache Trail in Arizona is a 120 mile circle route through the Superstition Mountains. It was named the Apache Trail after the Native American Indians who originally used this trail to migrate through the Superstition Mountains for over 1,000 years. The current Apache Trail links Apache Junction at the edge of the Greater Phoenix area with Theodore Roosevelt Lake, through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest. Today, much of the Apache Trail is paved, and the section east of Apache Junction is known officially as State Route 88. It is also the main traffic corridor through Apache Junction, turning into Main Street as the road passes into Mesa, and regains the Apache name by becoming Apache Boulevard in Tempe, ending at Mill Avenue.

Prior to the completion of the Superstition Freeway in 1992, the Apache Junction portion of the Apache Trail was part of US Highway 60, which was rerouted to the Superstition Freeway once it was completed. The Trail winds steeply through 40 miles (64 km) of rugged desert mountains, past deep reservoir lakes like Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. 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. 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.

Originally, and more historically correct, Apache Trail was built as a wagon route for the construction of Roosevelt Dam from 1902-1909 and was originally called the "Mesa to Roosevelt Road." Roosevelt, Fish Creek Station, Tortilla Flat Station, Mormon Flat Flat Station, Pinto Creek and Youngsberg aka Goldfield are just a few of the many historic landmarks along the America's oldest highway, the Apache Trail. As the old Southern Pacific Railroad used to say, "Every mile a scene worth while! Sunshine all the way!"


Donald N. Bentz, “The Doomed City” Frontier Times May 1968.

David P. Billington, et al., The History of Large Federal Dams. . . (US Bureau of Reclamation, 2005)

Kathleen Garcia, Roosevelt Dam (2009)

Athia L. Hardt, ed., Arizona Waterline [1989]

L. L. Lombardi, Tortilla Flat Then & Now (1996)

Salt River Project, The Taming of the Salt (1970)

Stephen C. Shadegg, Century One (1969)

Chester W. Smith, “The Building of the Roosevelt Dam” The Earth August 1909

Karen L. Smith, The Magnificent Experiment, Building the Salt River Reclamation Project, 1890-1917 (1986)

US Dept. of Interior, USGS, US Reclamation Service, annual reports: 1903-04, 1915-16.

Earl A. Zarbin, Roosevelt Dam: A History to 1911 (1984)
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Apache Trail Tours reviews

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351 reviews
  • Boots was awesome! Great experience and a lot of fun! Worth it especially in the spring time when it’s not too hot. 
    Boots was awesome! Great experience and a lot of fun! Worth it especially in the spring time when it’s not too hot.  more »
  • Very educational and entertaining. Smokey did a great job. I would recommend this, especially if you are new to the desert. 
    Very educational and entertaining. Smokey did a great job. I would recommend this, especially if you are new to the desert.  more »
  • Had Lobo for our guide. Great guy! Gave us lots of information about the area. If you want to see the dessert up close, take the tour.it was bumpy but it’s on back roads thru the dessert. Really not that bad of a ride. We would recommend this as a wonderful way to spend a few hours!
  • I had family visiting me and the Jeep tour was one of our activities. The entire staff was accommodating, and very responsive from start to finish. “Boots” was our guide and so much fun! She took time to know and remember our names and get to know us. She Definitely took a personal interest in our group of 4 and comfortably interacted with us while pointing out the flora and fauna of Arizona. She was great at warning us about bumpy segments ahead. One of our group was a first time visitor to the Arizona desert. Boots was incredibly “upbeat” and made the tour even more enjoyable. I would highly recommend the “90 minute off road tour.” It was well worth the few additional $$. Thank you, Jan, Boots, and staff. Diane

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