Winter Escape / Feb & Mar 2015 travel blog

Goldfield ghost town

Superstition Mountain, a sacred place for the Apache

Overlooking Canyon Lake

This is the open jeep that we rode

Open country

Open country

Over the mountain and looking down into fish creek

A peek at Apache Lake

This saguaro cactus is at least 200 years old, according to our...

Unpaved Apache Trail

Apache Lake. The peaks in the background are 3 of the "4...

Canyon Lake

Apache Gap, the main pass out of the mountains, site of several...


We spent a day touring the Goldfield Ghost Town and the Apache Trail. Goldfield is an abandoned gold mine town outside Mesa, about 30 miles west of Phoenix. At one time it was the largest settlement in the Arizona Territory with 4,000 residents (!) and the mine shaft was over 1,000 ft deep. Mining started in 1892. In 1897 the miners struck a vein of water and the mine flooded, halting the operation. Within 30 days, a majority of the residents had moved away and the town was abandoned a short time later. Several attempts to pump out the water in order to resume mining have failed, most recently about 20 years ago. Goldfield is still an incorporated town in Arizona but the only permanent resident and landowner is the mayor, who is also the owner/operator of the ghost town attraction.

The Apache Trail is really located in the historic home of the Apache Indians, but the trail has nothing to do with the Apaches. The 'trail' was built as a construction road for a series of 4 dams built in the early 20th century along the Salt River and later renamed. The remote and rugged Salt River Canyon was the home of the last Apaches who resisted relocation to the Indian reservations. Annual flooding of the settlements downstream along the Salt and Gila Rivers caused the residents to call for dams upstream. These dams would also provide water conservation and hydroelectric power, which for 50 years supplied Phoenix with all the water and electricity it needed. Today the supply is supplemented by water and electricity from the Colorado River.

So the Apache Trail is state route AZ-88 that starts at Goldfield and extends to the 4 huge lakes and dams on the Salt River, ending at Theodore Roosevelt Lake and the dam of the same name. The 4 lakes are all long and narrow, occupying the deep canyons of the Salt River, and they have some development for camping, boating and fishing (even some RV sites!). It is beautiful country and all of it lies within the Tonto National Forest. The first 20 miles of the trip is paved roads and the rest is unpaved. We went about 50 miles up and saw a part of Arizona that a lot of tourists never get to see.

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