PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Now the link between Apache Junction and Roosevelt Lake, the Apache Trail, also known as State Route 88, was once just a path used first by Native Americans to traverse the rugged range we know as the Superstition Mountains.
The road was constructed because of the need to get supplies to the site where the Salt River and Tonto Creek converged and a dam was to built. The year was 1903 and the dam was Roosevelt Dam.
At the time, the road was referred to as the Mesa-Roosevelt Road.
The work was backbreaking as it involved crews using mostly hand tools to cut the road out of the mountains.
Once the dam was complete, President Theodore Roosevelt traveled along the Mesa-Roosevelt Road in order to dedicate the dam named after him on March 18, 1911.
"The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have, to me, it is most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful," he said.
Roughly 40 miles long, the Apache Trail is a great day trip that takes the traveler from Apache Junction to points east into the Superstition Mountains.
Along the way, you'll pass Canyon Lake. And then it's on to Tortilla Flat (population 6) which was once a stagecoach stop along the route.
Up to this point, the road is paved, but just before you reach Fish Creek Hill the pavement ends and the dirt adventure begins.
The steep single-lane road should be driven with caution. It's thrilling but is best to take it easy. More than one car has taken the plunge over the edge of the cliff with disastrous results. The route is not recommended for larger vehicles such as RVs but can be safely driven in a passenger car.
Winding through the desert for a few miles, Apache lake comes into view on the north side of the road. Finally, the traveler is rewarded with views of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam and the lake the dam created, Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
Once the world's tallest masonry dam, Roosevelt Dan helped control flooding and led to large-scale irrigation in central Arizona.