Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Apache Trail -- not so scary

It's so not scary.

Stories about the Apache Trail northeast of Phoenix inevitably include a warning -- THIS ROAD IS NOT ADVISED FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE AFRAID OF HEIGHTS. Pshaw.

For sure, one section of the road winds high above the canyon, but it never narrows to a single lane and the whole section comes complete WITH A GUARDRAIL! Anyone afraid of this road needs to cowboy up. If you really want to pee your pants, drive the road from Ouray to Telluride over Imogene Pass in Colorado, including the one-way downhill section into Telluride (there's another option that's pretty freaky, but not like the one-way route). That one is scary.

As for the Apache Trail, while it's not scary, it's darn pretty. It goes through some of the most magnificent portions of the American part of the Sonoran Desert and past several man-made lakes along the Salt River, which enhance the views. There's also a hokey watering hole called Tortilla Flats on the Phoenix side of the road near the end of the pavement.

At the eastern end of the road lies the remarkable Roosevelt Dam, and from there you can drive south (as we did) to Tonto National Monument and its ancient cliff dwellings. From there, on the loop back toward Phoenix are the mining towns of Globe, Miami and Superior. They are interesting places that would be improved somewhat by the application of a bulldozer. That's mean, but you can go and judge for yourself. On the plus side, Globe is home to one of the greatest ghost signs I've ever seen.

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