I will admit that we spent far more time just kicking back, enjoying and exploring the park than anything else this last week but to be honest we have had such a busy and active summer that I was ready for a week like that. But we did venture out and do some sightseeing.
One day we decided to drive the Apache Trail, or AZ 88 as it is officially known. We started at Apache Junction and drove winding, mostly unpaved and washboard backroads through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest all the way until we reached the Theodore Roosevelt Dam.
The first thing of interest we came across was a little ghost town called Goldfield, a very commercialized ghost town LOL. You can tour the Mammoth Gold Mine, check out the Goldfield Museum, Pan for gold, then take a ride on a narrow gauge train and even take in a gunfight if you want. We rolled into town about 9am and the town doesn’t come alive until 10 so we pretty much did a walking tour and were on our way before all the stuff started happening.
Back in the 1890’s Goldfield had 3 saloons, a boarding house, general store, blacksmith shop, brewery, meat market and a school house.
It had a population of 30,000 during its boom year in 1906 when it produced $11 million in gold. But like they say, all good things must come to an end and the vein faulted, the grade of ore dropped and the town dwindled away and eventually became what it is today.
After touring Goldfield we drove up the road a short distance and checked out the Lost Dutchman State Park, a spot we would probably camp the next time we come to the area but our “Free” stay turned out pretty good so we can’t complain LOL!! Like always we grabbed a park map and marked what sites we liked most as we drove around and then headed back out on our driving tour.
Not much further past the State Park we came across Canyon Lake which was formed after they dammed the Salt River. We saw a couple marinas and one RV Park which was closed when we went by.
We continuing east until we reached the old town of Tortilla Flat which got its start because of the road construction to Roosevelt Dam in 1904. There was a need for a stagecoach stop for freight haulers on their way to the construction site at Roosevelt Dam and Tortilla Flat served that purpose. Shortly following the construction of the road, Roosevelt Dam became a big tourist attraction. At that point Tortilla Flat was a stage stop for tourists and mail carriers through the 1930s.
We walked up and down the short row of old building, stopped in for an ice-cream cone and sat on the old park bench along the street for a while before heading out again.
Soon after leaving Tortilla Flats the road turns to gravel and is very wash boarded and continues on along the Apache Lake and eventually to the Theodore Roosevelt Dam. I have the jeep set up for the type of wheeling we did in Oregon with stiffer springs and very thick sidewall “stiff” so when we hit washboard roads like the ones on the Apache Trail it’s a bumpy ride LOL!!! I should have stopped and let some air out of the tires at the beginning.
Once we reached the dam we ate out apples and crackers we packed for lunch and took in the sights.
The Dam was started in 1906 and completed in 1911 and remains the world’s largest masonry dam at almost 357 feet tall.
After leaving the dam we came across the Tonto National Monument cliff dwellings that were built by the Salado Indians around 1300 AD high in the southeast-facing overlooking the Tonto Basin, which is now flooded forming Theodore Roosevelt Lake. Originally the Salt River flowed through the basin.
There is a ½ mile, self-guided trail that climbs 350 feet in elevation that leads from the museum to the lower ruin.
The two-story Lower Ruin originally had 19 rooms and most are well-preserved and you can walk through some of them. A ranger is usually stationed at the ruin all day, to answer questions and no doubt monitor visitors.
The second (Upper) ruin is larger, with 40 rooms, but further away and visitors must be accompanied by a ranger; these tours (3 miles round trip) need to be booked in advance.
There was a storm rolling in the area and we were told if we see any lightning before we reached the ½ way point of the walk to the ruin to turn around and head back and if we saw lightning after the ½ way point to continue up to the safety of the ruins so we scurried right along so we could get up top.
Once we reached the ruins we chatted with the ranger a bit and had just enough time to see the lower ruins before he received word on his walkie talkie that some RED was showing on the radar and we should get off the mountain. As we headed down the thunder started to boom and by the time we reached the Jeep the rain started.
We took a look at the radar app on the phone and saw it was going to be a doozy of a storm and we had to go right through it to get home. There were probably a couple more stops we could have made on our road trip but with the storm we decided to just head home.
We hit some strong winds and the rain was coming down so hard I had the wipers on high and they could not keep up, FUN. And even though we didn’t hit much hail there was white stuff piled along the road and some still standing on the road as we went through. We are just glad we were not still out on the dirt section of our journey, that might have been interesting.
On another day we went to a pretty good sized open air market in Apache Junction that took care of a good chunk of a day.
Overall we enjoyed our stay in Gold Canyon and Diane really liked the area. We enjoyed a couple Happy Hours, listened to some good music, had a nice Pork-chop dinner put on by the park, played a little pool, spent some time in the hot tub and did a number of walks and bike rides.
Oh, at the pork-chop dinner they drew numbers out of a hat to decide what table got in line for food and the last table got a free bottle of wine. When it came down to the last two table (we were one) they brought the hat to me to draw a number and,,,,,,,,, WE WON THE BOTTLE OF WINE!!!!! LOL!!!
On Sunday 11/1 we needed to lift our jacks and make another move a little farther south but I’m sure we will return to Gold Canyon some time in the future.
I mentioned in our last update that I would talk more about the RV Port Homes and I think I will do a separate update just on that so hang on and it will come soon.