By Darren Griffiths

A Day on the Apache Trail: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Visitors

12th October 2023

Embarking on the Apache Trail scenic drive is akin to stepping back in time where the old and new intertwine amidst a backdrop of Arizona’s desolate yet captivating desert landscape. 

Stretching across the heart of the Superstition Mountains, this remote gem offers a day filled with the wonders of nature, the whispers of history, and a rugged terrain waiting to be explored. Whether it’s the steep cliffs, the cool waters of the lakes along the trail, or the desert flora and fauna, there’s a bit of everything for everyone.

The Apache Trail isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it’s a journey through time. As you navigate the winding roads, each turn uncovers a part of Arizona’s rich history, from the ancient Native American tribes to the hopeful miners of the gold rush era. The sheer variety of attractions and activities along the trail makes it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the essence of the Wild West.

Historical Background

Native American Roots

Long before the inception of the Apache Trail, the native Apache tribe traversed these lands. Their legacy is deeply ingrained in the trails, giving the Apache Trail a rich historical and cultural aura. As you drive along the Apache Trail scenic drive, imagine the Apache tribe navigating through the harsh yet beautiful landscapes, leaving behind stories and traditions that continue to intrigue visitors to this day.

Mining Era

The allure of gold turned the Apache Trail into a bustling route during the mining era. Miners and settlers in the late 1800s trod along, hopeful for a gleaming future amidst the rocky terrains of Apache Trail Arizona. The remnants of this era are well-preserved, showcasing a significant chapter in the trail’s history that’s full of hopes, dreams, and the quintessential wild, wildest adventures.

Preparing for Your Trip

Preparation is key to making the most of your day on the Apache Trail. The basics include packing plenty of water to stay hydrated, sunscreen to shield yourself from the harsh sun, comfortable walking shoes for the hikes, snacks to keep your energy up, and of course, a camera to capture the breathtaking views.

For those enchanted by the rustic allure and serene landscapes surrounding the Apache Trail, relocating to this area could be a dream come true. Living nearby gives you the luxury to explore the trail and its adjacent attractions at your leisure. 

The town of Apache Junction, located at the trail’s head, is an ideal spot for those looking to stay close to nature while still having access to essential amenities. 

Weather Considerations

The weather on the Apache Trail can be quite unpredictable, swinging from hot and sunny during the day to chilly in the evenings. Checking the weather forecast before heading out is crucial, and dressing in layers is advisable to adjust to the changing temperatures comfortably.

Starting your journey early in the morning is a wise choice to avoid the scorching afternoon sun, particularly during the summer months. The mornings on the Apache Trail are cool and serene, providing a pleasant atmosphere to kickstart your adventure.

Getting There


Navigating your way to the Apache Trail is fairly straightforward. Officially named State Route 88, it stretches from Apache Junction to Theodore Roosevelt Dam, offering about 40 miles of breathtaking landscapes. The trail is easily accessible from Phoenix, which is about an hour’s drive away. Once in Apache Junction, the start of the Apache Trail is well-marked, making it easy for first-time visitors.

Nearby Towns

Before or after embarking on the Apache Trail scenic drive, you might want to explore the nearby towns. Apache Junction, the starting point of the trail, has its own share of attractions and amenities. It’s a good place to stock up on supplies, grab a hearty meal, and learn a bit more about the area’s history before hitting the trail.

Attractions Along the Trail

Apache Trail

The Superstition Mountains

The Superstition Mountains are arguably the crown jewel of the Apache Trail. These majestic formations stand tall, casting their shadow over the desert below, creating a surreal landscape that has been the subject of legends and folklore for centuries. The mystique surrounding these mountains is palpable as you navigate through the trails that wind around them.

Being the backdrop of the famed Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine legend, the Superstition Mountains beckon the curious and the adventurous. There are several viewpoints and stops along the Apache Trail where you can soak in the mesmerizing views of these enigmatic mountains, each offering a different perspective of their grandeur.

Goldfield Ghost Town

One of the significant stops along the Apache Trail is the Goldfield Ghost Town. This restored ghost town provides a tangible link to the past, offering a glimpse into the lives of the pioneers who once sought fortune in this harsh yet promising landscape. Walking through the rustic streets of Goldfield, the spirit of the Wild West comes alive, and the tales of yesteryears echo through the wooden facades of the buildings.

Lakes Along The Trail

The presence of tranquil lakes amidst the rough terrains of the Apache Trail scenic drive presents a striking contrast and a welcoming respite for travelers. The calm waters reflect the clear blue skies of Arizona, providing picturesque spots for a break, photography, or even a refreshing swim during the warmer months. Each lake along the trail has its own unique charm, offering various recreational opportunities to visitors.

Safety Precautions

Driving Safely

The Apache Trail is known for its narrow, winding roads, which can be quite challenging for inexperienced drivers. The unpaved sections require cautious driving to navigate safely. It’s essential to keep a moderate speed, stay alert, and be prepared for sudden turns and steep inclines along the trail. The raw beauty of the trail is undeniably captivating, but safety should always be the priority.

Staying Hydrated and Protected

Arizona’s desert climate can be extremely harsh, especially during the summer months when temperatures soar. Staying hydrated is paramount to ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the Apache Trail. Packing plenty of water, more than you think you’ll need, is a wise precaution. It’s also advisable to carry electrolyte-replenishing drinks to prevent dehydration.

Protection from the sun is equally important. Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing are crucial to avoid sunburn and other sun-related illnesses. The sun can be relentless, and the desert provides little to no shade, making these precautions necessary for a comfortable trip.


Your adventure on the Apache Trail is bound to be a memorable one, filled with scenic beauty, historical lessons, and the raw essence of Arizona’s wilderness. From the mystique of the Superstition Mountains to the historic Goldfield Ghost Town, every mile of the Apache Trail scenic drive presents a new opportunity for exploration and appreciation. 

Preparing adequately and adhering to safety precautions will ensure you make the most out of your day on this iconic trail. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking a unique Arizona adventure, the Apache Trail awaits with open arms.