The last time we were here in the Mesa area we drove to a town we had heard was pretty cool called Tortilla Flats. Whenever we told people about it they always asked why we didn’t drive further as that was the best part of the Apache Trail drive. Well we decided we weren’t going to make the same mistake twice…
The drive we planned to take was about 145 miles in a loop that would take us from Mesa north on 87 to 188 southeast to Jakes Corner and then to Government Hill where we would take 88 southwest to Tortilla Flats and then finally back home. We packed a small lunch and headed out around 10:30. The drive out of Mesa on 87 is pretty scenic so we stopped a few times to walk about and take a few photos.
The drive on 188 was not quite as scenic but we did gain in elevation and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. We saw quite a few junipers and even a few pine trees on this leg of the journey. Just before Government Hill we enjoyed the expanse of water known as Theodore Roosevelt Lake. On past the town of Government Hill was where the best of part of the loop was about to commence as turned southwest on 88 on the Apache Trail Scenic Byway (Arizona’s oldest Highway) heading toward Tortilla Flats.
The pavement ended pretty quickly after we passed the Roosevelt Dam. The Apache Trail was originally only an old path but was enlarged to handle the machinery needed to build the Roosevelt Dam. The road was completed in 1905 and the Roosevelt Dam that stopped the Salt River was completed in 1911. Since then many a tourist has driven this winding and somewhat treacherous road along the Salt River.
The dirt road spans nearly 40 miles through the Superstition Mountains where we encountered sharp turns and steep cliff drop offs all with little to no safety rails along the way. The road is definitely not for the faint of heart but if so inclined as we were, we were treated to scenic canyons, rugged desert mountains and beautiful blue reservoir lakes such as Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. The Apache Trail is not recommended for RVs but we still encountered several along the route. I would never consider driving ours along this route as we frequently encountered one lane bridges and stretches of road that were not passable by more than one car.
After arriving at Tortilla Flats we walked around to reacquaint ourselves with the little town. Having enjoyed this quaint village before we didn’t stay long and continued our scenic drive to Apache Junction. Once arrived at Apache Junction we decided to stop for a frosty beverage at place called Filly’s Roadhouse that our Canadian friends in Yuma told us about. This place was packed… I mean packed with lots of people donning mostly cowboy hats and boots. There was a separate parking area especially for horses as many of the patrons rode in that day. The live band was strumming some of the best Country and Western hits and the dance floor was overflowing with dancers. Filly’s is yet another road treat that we have discovered during our travels.
We just sat at a nice umbrella shaded table to enjoy the sounds and sights. Yep, just another interesting day in our lives…