The Apache Trail and Tonto Cliff Dwellings

About an hour east of Phoenix starting at the town of Apache Junction is a scenic drive called The Apache Trail. You get on US 88 and head northeast up into the mountains. The first stop I made was at the Lost Dutchman State Park. This is a park just located a little ways out of Apache Junction with a campground and lots of hiking into the nearby Hills. The campground was quite full being that spring break was on the lot of locals came here to get out of the city for the weekend. Most of the sites can be reserved but there is a section that is kept for first come first serve, I may plan on staying here one day. As you drive along you had on a nice paved wide road that wanders up through the beautiful hills, at this time of year things are green and blew it makes for a lovely drive. There are three lakes located along this drive and the first one you come to, coming from the west is Canyon Lake.

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This is a beautiful crisp mountain lake that has crystal-clear waters, so of course Maxine insisted we stopped so she could take a swim.

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There is also an old-time paddlewheel steamboat called The Dolly Steamboat that you can take a ride around the lake. In the photo you can see a picture of it in the far right corner.

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 Shortly after leaving the Canyon Lake area the paved road ends.

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 I thought it would maybe only go a short distance but it ends up being a 20 mile drive on a bumpy dusty road. But well worth the trip with beautiful scenes as you drive along. The photos don’t do justice to the views that you have as you drive along.

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 About 10 or 12 miles in you come to the second Lake “Apache Lake” this is another beautiful pristine mountain lake. These three lakes are actually all reservoirs created by dams on the Salt River. Here’s a photo as you catch the first glimpse of the lake with the beautiful flowers in bloom.

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We made several stops and a couple short hikes as we drove along the trail.

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 The last lake you come to is Theodore Roosevelt Lake formed by this large dam. At this point the paved road start again and make for a more relaxing drive.

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There is a large suspension bridge that crosses the lake right by the dam.

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As you drive along Roosevelt Lake there are numerous national Park campgrounds some more developed and some quite primitive. You see this is all located in the Tonto National Forest.

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 As we drove along the lake all of a sudden we came to a sign that said Tonto National Monument Cliff Dwellings. I stopped made a U-turn and headed up to the monument to check it out. The monument is only open till 5 o’clock and I was just before 4 o’clock, but I was informed at the gate if I got to the trail by four I would be allowed to hike it to the lower Cliff dwellings. And Maxine could even come along to the lower dwellings but not the upward dwellings, but that’s okay there were already close for the day. So we hurried in and found a parking spot and headed to the trail. The trail to the lower Cliff dwellings is a 1 mile round-trip paved trail that ascends about 350 feet, pets are allowed on this trail on a leash but not allowed in the dwellings themselves. There are beautiful views looking back towards Roosevelt Lake and the valleys surrounding.

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 The dwellings were built some 700 years ago and I can only imagine how different the views were then without the lake there, you probably would not have even seen the river down in the Valley. So we made it to the top a little out of breath, (for me anyways). To catch a glimpse of what remains of the dwellings.

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Maxine waited patiently so I could take a quick peek inside.

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 You are allowed in the dwellings but they ask you not to touch the fragile walls as over the years they have become damaged and depleted. The upper dwellings I am told are much more pristine shape but the trip there is a three-mile round-trip. That takes a good three hours to complete the round-trip going up a rocky trail climbing some 600 feet. And during the week there is only one trip leaving at 10 o’clock that is guided to the dwellings. I think I will have to plan a trip back here someday to be able to take in the upper dwellings. That sums up this daytrip of a beautiful ride and some nice hiking. Hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll get a chance to take in some more of the beautiful Arizona and New Mexico outdoor life. That’s it for now take care, one and all to the next time.

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Apache Trail and Tonto Cliff Dwellings

  1. Hey Rick! Just caught up with your last 2 posts! Looks like you’ve been having fun and seeing some great sites! I would love to see those cliff dwellings some day! Looks very interesting! Thanks for sharing! Love keeping up with you and Maxine! Miss you!

    Like

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