Old Apache Trail Tour

By Tom Kollenborn

The Apache Trail's famous Circle Route begins and ends in Apache Junction, Arizona. This 120 mile scenic route is America's oldest roadway and Arizona’s first Historic Highway. The Apache Trail received that honor on February 25th, 1987. In fact, the Apache Trail has the distinction of being the only recognized Historic and Scenic Highway in Arizona.

The Apache Trail scenic tour will take you through deserts, mountains, by cliff dwellings, along lake shores, through old mining towns and through beautifully eroded canyons. This popular route has been used by tourists since 1915.

The State of Arizona, under the leadership of Governor George P. Hunt in 1919, decided to build a transportation link between Phoenix and the cities of Globe and Miami. Governor Hunt wanted to open the Globe and Miami copper industry to the Phoenix market. The only road in 1919 linking these two important economic centers was the Mesa-Roosevelt Road (Apache Trail) or the long rail route through Tucson, Bowie and Safford.

The Apache Trail was not an efficient roadway for moving goods from place to place. The roadway originally was built as a haul and service road for the construction and maintenance of Roosevelt Dam. For the most part the Apache Trail was a single lane road with occasional pull outs; however the roadway fascinated tourists who visited the area.

In 1919, there were several stations along the Apache Trail that serviced the tourist making the long journey by way of motorcar. There was Government Well, Mormon Flat, Tortilla Flat, Fish Creek Lodge and Snell's Station between Mesa and Roosevelt Dam. The completion of the Phoenix-Globe Highway through Superior in May of 1922 completed the famous Circle Route that allowed drivers of automobiles to circumnavigate the entire Superstition Wilderness Area, an almost road-less region.