Apache Junction, about 30 miles East of Phoenix, is aptly named. Framed by the Superstition Mountains, the town includes part of the Apache Trail, used for hundreds of years by Indians who needed to travel or disappear into the rugged terrain.
The Apache Trail winds about 40 miles through some of the most difficult and unforgiving cliffs and rock face in Arizona. The hard switchbacks are fun for a skilled motorcyclist, but no driver ever stops noticing that the edge of the road is next to a steep drop with no wires or barriers to stop a vehicle from plunging over the edge.
Between the Lost Dutchman Mine reststop (on Route 88) and Tortilla Flat, 12 miles away, are three breathtaking lakes–Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Suguaro Lake. All three lakes are connected by a river and end at the Roosevelt Dam. When you consider that mules were used to bring supplies and workers to the Roosevelt Dam by mule train, the paved road seems like a luxury.
(There is a fascinating 3-part story about the Lost Dutchman mine with treasure maps and iconography at Desert USA. Well worth reading.)
There is a boat ride on Canyon Lake that goes around the rocky canyons and cliffs of Canyon Lake. You can see big horn sheep, eagles, white-tail deer and mule deer on your trip.
The desert looks different when you are traveling on a 90-foot deep lake through stone canyons. The saguaros are a visual clue that you aren’t far from the desert floor.
Some of the canyons have interesting natural shapes in them. The one below is considered to be a goddess protector of the spirit of the Lake. You can see her in silhouette in the center of the picture, a figure of a woman in prayer, facing right.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and life- and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com