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Arizona 88

Arizona 88 (known as Apache Trail) is one of the oldest routes in the state highway system. The route was also part of the original Ocean to Ocean Highway until 1922.

The original route was constructed in 1904 as a wagon road, to provide access to Roosevelt Dam during construction of the dam. In the 1920s, the road was widened to handle automobiles, with a final reroute completed by 1936 to take the road around Canyon Lake and Apache Lake.

The road remains in the same condition as it was in 1936. Due to the steep grades, the road was never eligible for the federal aid system, so it has always remained a state highway. While portions of the road are paved, the majority is covered either by decaying asphalt or is a dirt road.

Arizona 88 is designated as the Apache Trail Historic Road. The road is a favorite weekend getaway of Phoenix residents. The road, however, is very windy, narrow, has steep grades, and sheer dropoffs. While it is a safe road, it is very challenging to drivers. Several sections of Fish Creek Hill have barely enough room for two cars to pass. The section from the Fish Creek overlook to Apache Dam is restricted to trailers of less than 40 feet, and RVs are not recommended on the route.

Special thanks to Thomas Gunther for his assistance with the photography of Apache Trail.

Eastbound Arizona 88
Arizona 88 was rerouted onto Idaho Road through Apache Junction in 1992, with the reroute of U.S. 60 onto former Arizona 360. This sign advises travellers to be in the right lane to continue on Arizona 88. Photo taken 04/22/07.
At the intersection of Idaho Road and Apache Trail, Arizona 88 turns right (east) to continue on Apache Trail. Use the right two lanes to make the turn onto Apache Trail. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Now on Apache Trail proper, we see this reassurance marker for Arizona 88. Arizona 88 has relatively few reassurance markers. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Distance sign to Canyon Lake, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake. Apache Trail paralells the Salt River, passing all three lakes. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 passes the ghost town of Goldfield here. Goldfield was founded in 1892 following a gold strike, and thrived for five years before dying off once the mines closed. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 meets Lost Dutchman State Park. Legend has it that there was a great gold strike in the 1840s, but it ended with an Apache ambush. A Dutchman supposedly found the mine in the 1870s, but the location died with him. The mine has never successfully been located since. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Apache Trail is a designated Arizona Scenic Byway. The route was established as a scenic road in 1986. Photo taken 04/22/07.

Even the U.S. Forest Service gets in the game, naming the Apache Trail as a recreational attraction. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Distance sign to Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat and Roosevelt (which lies on Arizona 188). Photo taken 04/22/07.
As Arizona 88 starts entering the Superstition Mountains, the road starts to wind through the terrain. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Distance sign to Roosevelt (38 miles, on Arizona 188) and Globe (73 miles, on U.S. 60). Photo taken 04/22/07.
Apache Trail winds through Apache Gap, between the mountains. After this, the road starts its descent towards Canyon Lake. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 descends down a short canyon to paralell the shoreline of Canyon Lake. The road used to paralell the river, but was rerouted as part of the construction of Canyon Lake. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Advance warning for the first of many one-lane bridges along Arizona 88. All of these bridges date back to the 1930s along the route. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Canyon Lake is impounded behind the waters of Mormon Flat Dam, completed in 1925. Canyon Lake is 142 feet deep at the dam, with a maximum water elevation of 1660' MSL. Photo taken 04/22/07.
The first one-lane bridge crosses First Water Creek. This bridge was completed in 1937, and has a corrugated steel deck. Photo taken 04/22/07.
This is another view of the bridge, looking westbound at it. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 meets the Palo Verde Boating Site road here. The boating site is part of Canyon Lake. Photo taken 04/22/07.
The Boulder Recreation site lies along Boulder Creek, which runs into Canyon Lake. The recreation site features a picnic area and fishing. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Just before crossing the Boulder Creek Bridge, there is an access road to the Canyon Lake Trailhead and Canyon Lake recreation area. Photo taken 04/22/07.
The Boulder Creek bridge was completed in 1937, and is 488 feet long. Photo taken 04/22/07.
The Boulder Creek bridge has a concrete deck, and like every other bridge, is one lane. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Distance sign to Tortilla Flat, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Dam. Photo taken 04/22/07.
The Laguna Boating Site is the last boat ramp located along Canyon Lake. After this point, Arizona 88 breaks away from the river to head toward Tortilla Flat. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Tortilla Flat is located along Tortilla Creek. The town was established in the 1860s, and has gone through several boom and bust periods. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Tortilla Flat today is a popular day trip from Phoenix. The town burned down in a fire in 1987, but was rebuilt from donations by loyal patrons. Today, the town has a population of 6, and features the popular Supersitition Saloon, with walls covered by dollar bills. An ice cream shop next door serves Prickly Pear ice cream. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Curving away from Tortilla Creek, Arizona 88 passes some interesting rock formations as it climbs the side of the canyon. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 features nice views of Black Cross Butte and Coronado Mesa as it climbs along Mesquite Creek. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 winds along the ridgeline above Mesquite Creek for a distance. This sign, denoting a speed limit of 45, marks the highest speed limit along the Apache Trail. The majority of the road is signed at 25 MPH or below. Photo taken 04/22/07.
This reassurance marker is the last one seen eastbound. Photo taken 04/22/07.
This corner along the Apache Trail shows a nice view east towards Fish Creek Hill. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Advance warning for the end of pavement along Apache Trail. In 500 feet, pavement will end and the road will revert to dirt. Photo taken 04/22/07.
22 of the remaining 23 miles of Arizona 88 are gravel and/or dirt road. The road will not see pavement again until reaching Roosevelt Dam. Photo taken 04/22/07.
Distance sign to Apache Lake (10 miles) and Roosevelt (22 miles). The Roosevelt mileage marker here refers to the dam and not the town. Photo taken 04/22/07.
The first few miles of the dirt road are covered by decaying asphalt, and the road is in good condition. It is still wide enough for two lanes, but in two miles, this will end and the road will drop to a one lane road (for the most part). Photo taken 04/22/07.
Arizona 88 begins to wind around and up Fish Creek Hill. As seen here, the road is covered by mostly asphalt at this point. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Horse Mesa and Bronco Butte can be seen in the foreground of this photo of Apache Trail, with Goat Mountain and Buckhorn Ridge in the background. This photo was taken from a trail overlooking the road. Photo taken 05/27/07.
This sharp turn looks toward Coronado Mesa and Bronco Butte. Sharp turns like this are common along the road. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Advance warning of the Fish Creek grade. The grade is relatively short (2 miles) but very steep (up to a 10% grade), and the entire grade - including cuts and fills up to 70 feet deep - was built by hand. Photo taken 05/27/07.
At the top of Fish Creek Hill, the U.S. Forest Service built an overlook of the road and grade. For those who are not comfortable with continuing on Apache Trail, this is a good place to turn around and head back toward Tortilla Flat. Photo taken 05/27/07.
The small size of the minivan in this photo shows the steepness of Fish Creek Hill. In the late 1980s, this road was recommended for Four Wheel Drive only, but can now be driven in a passenger car (very carefully). A SUV or other high clearance vehicle is recommended, though. Photo taken 05/27/07.
This scenic road trailblazer is the only sign noting that this is a state highway. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Welcome to Fish Creek Hill. The 10 MPH curves sign is not a joke. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 snakes along the side of an unnamed canyon before turning into Fish Creek Canyon proper. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Watch this turn...it's a doozy. Most of the curves along this road have limited to no sight lines. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Many sections of the Fish Creek grade are effectively one lane, with barely enough width at certain points for cars to pass. Driving slowly and anticipating drivers heading the other direction is strongly advised - as drivers heading uphill have the right of way. Photo taken 05/27/07.
This photo overlooks Lewis Pranty creek, which Arizona 88 follows as it departs Fish Creek Canyon. At the bottom of this photo, the curves of Arizona 88 can be seen, around 600 feet below this point. Photo taken 05/27/07.
If you're afraid of heights or overhanging rocks, maybe you shouldn't drive Arizona 88. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 continues it's steep descent alongside Fish Creek Canyon. Photos taken 05/26/07.
Cars travelling the opposite direction tend to sneak up on drivers on the APache Trail. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Many cars have slid off the side of Fish Creek Hill over the years. The second photo shows the drainage culvert constructed under the road, while the others show the narrow width of the grade. Photos taken 05/26/07.
Advance warning of the one-lane bridge across Fish Creek. Photo taken 05/27/07.
At the very bottom of Fish Creek Canyon, a sharp turn leads to the one lane bridge crossing the creek. Photo taken 05/27/07.
The Fish Creek bridge dates back to 1928. This photo was shot just after crossing the bridge, looking back at it. Photo taken 05/27/07.
This culvert dates back to the original construction of Arizona 88, and shows how drainage was constructed along the road. The Fish Creek bridge is just to the left of this photo. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 now turns east to paralell Lewis Pranty Creek. The water provided by the creek supports taller vegetation than seen previously on the hill. Photo taken 05/27/07.
The walls of Lewis Pranty canyon are quite impressive, rising up to 1000 feet above the canyon floor. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 twists and turns to follow the creek bed, approaching this one lane bridge. The powerlines above paralell the road all the way to Roosevelt dam, and bring power from the dam to Phoenix. Photo taken 05/27/07.
The bridge over Lewis Pranty Creek is the oldest along Arizona 88, with a completion date of 1922 - when the road was rebuilt. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 now turns north, away from Lewis Pranty Creek, and crosses a low drainage divide to move closer to Apache Lake. Photo taken 05/27/07.
All of the original rock retaining walls are still in existence along the Apache Trail. We are approching another one lane bridge here. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 crosses Dry Wash here. The road now winds northeast, staying above Apache Lake. The road originally went closer to the Salt River, but was moved up the hillside in the 1920s with the construction of Horse Mesa Dam. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 descends off the hills above Apache Lake and passes near Burnt Corral Creek, passing under the powerlines here. Photo taken 05/27/07.
This is the first view of Apache Lake from the road. Arizona 88 was rerouted in 1925 to avoid the construction of Apache Lake. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 approaches the Apache Lake recreation area. Next to this road is an overlook of the lake. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Apache Lake is impounded by Horse Mesa Dam, constructed between 1924 and 1927. The 305 foot high concrete dam impounds a 266 foot deep lake. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Distance sign to Arizona 188 and Roosevelt Dam (12 miles). 11 of the remaining 12 miles are completely dirt, with no asphalt cover on the road. Photo taken 05/27/07.
North of Apache Lake Marina, Arizona 88 starts to twist and hug the side of Apache Lake as it proceeds north to Roosevelt Dam. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 features a view northward toward Vineyard Mountain, located just southwest of Roosevelt Dam. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 crosses Davis Wash on this 1939-vintage concrete bridge. This is the last of the vintage bridges along Apache Trail. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 twists and winds around the upper reaches of Apache Lake. This shot shows the road in the distance as a clearly delinated line. Photos taken 05/26/07.
Before reaching Roosevelt Dam, Arizona 88 drops back down next to the Salt River and upper reaches of Apache Lake. Notice the dust clouds caused by traffic. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 does a quick climb away from the river as it makes its final approach to Roosevelt Dam. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Roosevelt Dam was the first dam along the Salt River, and the project that led to the construction of Apache Trail. The 1911-vintage dam was once the world's tallest Masonry dam, and is a critical part in the development of Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. The dam was rebuilt in the early 1990s in concrete to add storage space and space for potential floods. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Just past the access to Roosevelt Dam, Arizona 88 receives pavement, albeit without a centerline. The road passes a new lookout over Roosevelt Dam and Roosevelt Lake, with a view of the 1991 bridge over the lake (which carries Arizona 188). Photo taken 05/27/07.
Advance signage for Arizona 188, 1/2 mile. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Upon reaching Arizona 188, travellers may turn left to reach Payson (via Arizona 87), or right to reach Globe (via U.S. 60). This bridge was constructed in 1991 as part of the Arizona 188/88/Roosevelt Dam reconstruction. Photo taken 05/27/07.
Arizona 88 ends here, at Arizona 188. Until 2000, Arizona 88 turned south along Arizona 188 to end at U.S. 60 near Globe. This signpost has the space for Arizona 88 on the right, but with the shield removed. Photo taken 05/27/07.

Sources:

  1. Driving the Apache Trail. Azcentral.com.
Photo Credits:
2007-04-22, 2007-05-26, 2007-05-27 by Kevin Trinkle

Connect with:
U.S. Highway 60
Arizona 188

Page Updated 05-30-2007.

 
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