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.

Arizona State Route 88 East
SR 88 was rerouted onto Idaho Road through Apache Junction in 1992, with the reroute of U.S. 60 onto former SR 360. This sign advises travellers to be in the right lane to continue on SR 88. 04/22/07
At the intersection of Idaho Road and Apache Trail, SR 88 turns right (east) to continue on Apache Trail. Use the right two lanes to make the turn onto Apache Trail. 04/22/07
Now on Apache Trail proper, we see this reassurance marker for SR 88. SR 88 has relatively few reassurance markers. 04/22/07
Distance sign to Canyon Lake, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake. Apache Trail parallels the Salt River, passing all three lakes. 04/22/07
SR 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. 04/22/07
SR 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. 04/22/07
Apache Trail is a designated Arizona Scenic Byway. The route was established as a scenic road in 1986. 04/22/07
Even the U.S. Forest Service gets in the game, naming the Apache Trail as a recreational attraction. 04/22/07
Distance sign to Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat and Roosevelt (which lies on SR 188). 04/22/07
As SR 88 starts entering the Superstition Mountains, the road starts to wind through the terrain. 04/22/07
Distance sign to Roosevelt (38 miles, on SR 188) and Globe (73 miles, on U.S. 60). 04/22/07
Apache Trail winds through Apache Gap, between the mountains. After this, the road starts its descent towards Canyon Lake. 04/22/07
SR 88 descends down a short canyon to parallel the shoreline of Canyon Lake. The road used to parallel the river, but was rerouted as part of the construction of Canyon Lake. 04/22/07
Advance warning for the first of many one-lane bridges along SR 88. All of these bridges date back to the 1930s along the route. 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. 04/22/07
The first one-lane bridge crosses First Water Creek. This bridge was completed in 1937, and has a corrugated steel deck. 04/22/07
This is another view of the bridge, looking westbound at it. 04/22/07
SR 88 meets the Palo Verde Boating Site road here. The boating site is part of Canyon Lake. 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. 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. 04/22/07
The Boulder Creek bridge was completed in 1937, and is 488 feet long. 04/22/07
The Boulder Creek bridge has a concrete deck, and like every other bridge, is one lane. 04/22/07
Distance sign to Tortilla Flat, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Dam. 04/22/07
The Laguna Boating Site is the last boat ramp located along Canyon Lake. After this point, SR 88 breaks away from the river to head toward Tortilla Flat. 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. 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. 04/22/07
Curving away from Tortilla Creek, SR 88 passes some interesting rock formations as it climbs the side of the canyon. 04/22/07
SR 88 features nice views of Black Cross Butte and Coronado Mesa as it climbs along Mesquite Creek. 04/22/07
SR 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. 04/22/07
This reassurance marker is the last one seen eastbound. 04/22/07
This corner along the Apache Trail shows a nice view east towards Fish Creek Hill. 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. 04/22/07
22 of the remaining 23 miles of SR 88 are gravel and/or dirt road. The road will not see pavement again until reaching Roosevelt Dam. 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. 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). 04/22/07
SR 88 begins to wind around and up Fish Creek Hill. As seen here, the road is covered by mostly asphalt at this point. 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. 05/27/07
This sharp turn looks toward Coronado Mesa and Bronco Butte. Sharp turns like this are common along the road. 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. 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. 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. 05/27/07
This scenic road trailblazer is the only sign noting that this is a state highway. 05/27/07
Welcome to Fish Creek Hill. The 10 MPH curves sign is not a joke. 05/27/07
2 photos
2 photos
SR 88 snakes along the side of an unnamed canyon before turning into Fish Creek Canyon. 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. 05/27/07
This photo overlooks Lewis Pranty creek, which SR 88 follows as it departs Fish Creek Canyon. At the bottom of this photo, the curves of SR 88 can be seen, around 600 feet below this point. 05/27/07
If you're afraid of heights or overhanging rocks, maybe you shouldn't drive SR 88. 05/27/07
3 photos
3 photos
3 photos
SR 88 continues it's steep descent alongside Fish Creek Canyon. 05/26/07
Cars travelling the opposite direction tend to sneak up on drivers on the APache Trail. 05/27/07
3 photos
3 photos
3 photos
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. 05/26/07
Advance warning of the one-lane bridge across Fish Creek. 05/27/07
At the very bottom of Fish Creek Canyon, a sharp turn leads to the one lane bridge crossing the creek. 05/27/07
The Fish Creek bridge dates back to 1928. This photo was shot just after crossing the bridge, looking back at it. 05/27/07
This culvert dates back to the original construction of SR 88, and shows how drainage was constructed along the road. The Fish Creek bridge is just to the left of this photo. 05/27/07
SR 88 now turns east to parallel Lewis Pranty Creek. The water provided by the creek supports taller vegetation than seen previously on the hill. 05/27/07
The walls of Lewis Pranty canyon are quite impressive, rising up to 1000 feet above the canyon floor. 05/27/07
SR 88 navigates alongside the creek bed,approaching this one lane bridge. The powerlines above parallel the road all the way to Roosevelt Dam, and bring power from the dam to Phoenix. 05/27/07
The bridge over Lewis Pranty Creek is the oldest along SR 88, with a completion date of 1922 - when the road was rebuilt. 05/27/07
SR 88 now turns north, away from Lewis Pranty Creek, and crosses a low drainage divide to move closer to Apache Lake. 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. 05/27/07
SR 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. 05/27/07
SR 88 descends off the hills above Apache Lake and passes near Burnt Corral Creek, passing under the powerlines here. 05/27/07
This is the first view of Apache Lake from the road. SR 88 was rerouted in 1925 to avoid the construction of Apache Lake. 05/27/07
SR 88 approaches the Apache Lake recreation area. Next to this road is an overlook of the lake. 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. 05/27/07
Distance sign to SR 188 and Roosevelt Dam (12 miles). 11 of the remaining 12 miles are completely dirt, with no asphalt cover on the road. 05/27/07
North of Apache Lake Marina, SR 88 starts to twist and hug the side of Apache Lake as it proceeds north to Roosevelt Dam. 05/27/07
SR 88 features a view northward toward Vineyard Mountain, located just southwest of Roosevelt Dam. 05/27/07
SR 88 crosses Davis Wash on this 1939-vintage concrete bridge. This is the last of the vintage bridges along Apache Trail. 05/27/07
2 photos
2 photos
SR 88 twists and winds around the upper reaches of Apache Lake. This shot shows the road in the distance as a clearly delinated line. 05/26/07
Before reaching Roosevelt Dam, SR 88 drops back down next to the Salt River and upper reaches of Apache Lake. Notice the dust clouds caused by traffic. 05/27/07
SR 88 does a quick climb away from the river as it makes its final approach to Roosevelt Dam. 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. 05/27/07
Just past the access to Roosevelt Dam, SR 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 SR 188). 05/27/07
Advance signage for SR 188, 1/2 mile. 05/27/07
Upon reaching SR 188, travellers may turn left to reach Payson (via SR 87), or right to reach Globe (via U.S. 60). This bridge was constructed in 1991 as part of the SR 188/88/Roosevelt Dam reconstruction. 05/27/07
SR 88 ends here, at SR 188. Until 2000, Arizona 88 turned south along SR 188 to end at U.S. 60 near Globe. This signpost has the space for SR 88 on the right, but with the shield removed. 05/27/07

Sources:
  1. Driving the Apache Trail. Azcentral.com.


Photo Credits:

04/22/07, 05/26/07, 05/27/07 by Kevin Trinkle

Connect with:
U.S. 60
State Route 188

Page Updated 05-30-2007.

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