Winter in the Desert - 2013 travel blog

Apache Trail

Apache Trail

Canyon Lake

Roosevelt Lake

flooded road

saguaro forest

Roosevelt Dam


indian ruins

The Salt River begins in the White Mountains and brings the water that Phoenix drinks to southern Arizona. It rains here more than we realized, but the rain comes unevenly, mostly in January and July/August during what the locals call the monsoon season. When Mother Nature was still in charge, this meant that the river would flood and cause damage to roads and bridges, and then dwindle away to nothingness. Local farmers begged for relief. In the early 1920's a dam was built to harness the river and supply hydroelectric power. In some canyons the controlled river formed reservoir lakes; the one name after Teddy Roosevelt is the largest. The dam also bears his name.

Today we drove the Apache Trail, a scenic road that used to carry stage coaches through the Superstition Mountains. Most likely they were following the route the local indians used to travel east and west. The current version of the road was built to transport equipment for the dam construction. At the eastern end the road bobs and weaves above the chain of lakes created by the Roosevelt Dam providing marvelous views. Although the western end of the road is paved, the eastern section from Tortilla Flats to the dam is gravel, quite narrow and twisting in places. The road appeared to have been graded, but the recent record rain had eroded gullies here and there, keeping the drive extra interesting.

As we came to each lake we could see huge parking lots and dock facilities, but few folks were around today. We ate lunch at a lodge on Apache Lake that had a dining room that could seat 200, but we were the only customers. The cook/waitress said that the busy season here is in the summer. It is very hot, but folks come here to swim and fish and enjoy the cool of the water.

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