This article appears in the Winter Boomers magazine.
Mesa, Arizona, is about 15 miles outside of Phoenix, as the crow flies. With the slogan “City Limitless,” explorers can fulfill their travel desires from spring training for professional baseball teams to a Wild West ghost town.
Beyond the limitless city, boomers will find a little something that will take them back in time — an area that reminds us of the days of Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy — the Apache Trail. This scenic drive takes travelers through beautiful desert and mountain views following in the footsteps of Native Americans and those prospecting for gold.
The entire round trip can offer some challenges for RVs, drivers who don’t like heights or riders who have motion sickness. But with a little Dramamine the trip will prove to be one of the best scenic drives travelers can find.
For those of you who don’t want to take on a challenge, there is plenty to do close to Mesa on the trail. Either way, allow the day for the trip.
On the trail
The Apache Trail was once a stagecoach route. It got its name from the Apache Indians who used the trail to move through the Superstition Mountains. The trail is known as State Route 88. Directions from Mesa: Take U.S. 60 east, exit at Idaho Road and travel north to connect with Highway 88.
Make a stop at the Superstition Mountain Museum, where history and the legends of the West are found. The museum at 4087 N. Apache Trail is a great stop for photographers, hikers, history buffs and everyone who travels the trail. The museum area has an exhibit hall, museum shop and outdoor structures including the Apacheland Barn. Stop by and find out what the Elvis Chapel is. Visit www.superstitionmountainmuseum.org for more information.
Go back in time at Goldfield Ghost Town. Established in the 1890s, it was a bustling town of three saloons, a brewery, general store, blacksmith, meat market and a schoolhouse. With Goldfield’s rate of growth, it was thought it would outgrow Mesa; however, the vein of gold failed and the town slowly died. Attempts were made to reopen the mines, but they were unsuccessful. Today, the restored town is a great place to visit for all ages. Learn the history, take a mine tour, ride the train, visit the saloon for a steak, buy something at the general store, pan for gold and more. Visit www.goldfieldghosttown.com for more information.
Mosey on along the trail enjoying the tall saguaro cacti and you will come upon beautiful Canyon Lake, where visitors can take a steamboat trip. The Dolly has been taking its passengers on a wonderful guided tour of the lake since 1925. View desert big horn sheep, bald eagles and other wildlife. The captain takes cruisers back in time with his stories of the Superstition Mountains. Take your camera and binoculars. The Dolly also offers a twilight dinner cruise and an astronomy dinner cruise. Visit www.dollysteamboat.com for dates, times and to purchase tickets.
More to see
The adventurous who continue on the trail will come upon picturesque Roosevelt Lake. The views are worth the drive on the winding dirt road. Roosevelt is the third-largest lake in Arizona, behind Lake Mead and Lake Powell. It is 22 miles long and has 128 miles of shoreline, offering many water activities. Visit www.rlmaz.com.
Tonto National Monument offers the history of native culture with two Salado-style cliff dwellings, woven cotton, colorful pottery and a variety of artifacts that tell the story of those living in the dwellings from 1250 to 1450. Visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/tonto/home for tours, trails and hours.
When you are off the trail plan to spend some time in the wonderful city of Mesa. In fact you can take another trail, the Fresh Foodie trail: a linked collection of farms. It is a culinary journey. Download a brochure at www.FreshFoodieTrail.com.
For more information on things to do and places to stay go to www.visitmesa.com.