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  • Lisa Parsons

The Apache Trail Through the Superstition Mountains

View of the Apache Trail from Viewpoint

Yesterday we found ourselves on the edge of the wild side along the Apache Trail that runs through the heart of the Superstition Mountains between Phoenix and Lake Roosevelt in Arizona. It was originally an Apache trail, then a stage coach route. Then plans to build the remote Theodore Roosevelt dam led to building a road in order to get men and supplies in to build the dam. The Apache trail was carved out of the mountains in 1911. Many of the workers were Apache Indians who were skilled masons which explains the look of the masonry for which they were known.

Apache Trail Highway on the left winding through the canyon

Canyons of orange to red cliff walls filled with the dark green water of reservoir lakes connected by the Salt river.

Lakes created by dams down stream

The road above, carved out of the canyon walls. Although this road exists because of the dams and power lines it opens up a journey of incredibly rugged beauty. We love the edge of the wild side of Arizona!

Van for Scale

One of the larger side canyons along the way

As we drove further into the canyon the road narrowed and clung to the cliff edges. In places the road looked like it was built upon cliff dwelling walls of red mud and stone. It curved into side canyons and tightly curved back up the other side.

The road carved out of the canyon walls

The canyon opened up along the Canyon Lake and then again on Apache Lake. Both are Reservoirs that have islands and inlets. Fishermen’s boats dot the lake along the way. Wild camps and campgrounds are found on dirt roads in wider plateaus and washes along the way.

Camping in a nearly empty campground right on the lake

We settled in to a nearly empty campground at a site on the shoreline of Apache Lake. I settled in for an for an evening of editing photos from one of the most incredibly scenic drives of our trip.

Sunset on Apache Lake

The next day we continued as the road narrowed at the end of the lake and then climbed upward towards Lake Roosevelt. The canyon walls grew redder and more varnished. We stopped at the dam overlook. The Theodore Roosevelt Dam was built of bricks in 1911 and remains the world's largest masonry dam at almost 300 feet tall. Something struck me as I gazed at the masonry dam between the two canyon walls and the square red brick building at the bottom. They looked like ruins. Artifacts of another time the way the decaying Anasazi stone walls look along the canyon cliff dwellings.

The artifact of another time

I know that someday these dams will be a part of our past. Rivers will run free again as we find new sources of energy and ways to store water. For now they are an impressive image of engineering and the harnessing of nature, that at the time the dams were built, were seen as revolutionary.

The longest single suspension bridge in the U.S. just above the dam

Sometimes things don’t change but how we look at them does. If I return here twenty years from now will it look different or will I look at it differently? Who knows?

I knew my country had stunning landscapes but I am surprised and amazed everyday!

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