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Exploring the Legendary Superstition Mountains

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies, and the magnificence of the Grand Canyon, and then adds an indefinable something that none of others have, to me, it is the most awe inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever created.”

Rock-Formations-at-Superstitions

Rock Formations at Superstitions

We took Apache Trail to explore Superstition Mountains. The Apache Trail passed Lost Dutchman State Park and then started to climb up the mountains. Rock formations had the unique brown and green colors. I guessed the green color came from those bright neon green lichens. Desert plants growing on bare rocks made this wilderness prettier. Saguaros stood tall and proud above other desert plants. Their stance with raising arms always made me smile. The winding Apache Trail took us to Canyon Lake Vista Point. There we had the view of Canyon Lake and the cliffs by the lake. We crossed a one-lane iron bridge at western side of the lake. From the moving truck, I saw lots of coots on the lake. There was a marina on the east side of the lake. And we crossed another one-lane iron bridge on the eastern side of the lake.

Canyon-Lake

Canyon Lake

Shortly we passed Tortilla Flat. We wanted to see all three lakes. So we kept going. But soon the paved road ended. There were still 10 miles to Apache Lake and 22 miles to Roosevelt Lake. We pulled over and looked at the map trying to figure out how long the dirt road would be. But the map on the flyer didn’t show any unpaved roads. A forest service truck came on the dirt road.

“Howdy!” Stephen greeted. “Is it 22 miles of dirt road all the way to Roosevelt Lake?”

The elder driver replied in a big smile, “Yep! It is 22 miles of dirt road. But it’s worthwhile to go one mile to Fish Creek Hill because it’s world famous!”

Rock Formations at Fish Creek Hill

Rock Formations at Fish Creek Hill

 

A Photographer Descending a Cliff at Fish Creek Hill

A Photographer Descending a Cliff at Fish Creek Hill

We thanked him and drove on the bumpy dirt road towards the View Point. The road was very narrow at some sections. Luckily, we didn’t meet any other vehicles. There was just one car parking on the parking lot of at Fish Creek Hill Scenic Vista. The view of the red cliffs and the distant mountain ranges was magnificent. Big part of the red cliffs was covered with blue green lichens. We walked off the paved trail and walked towards the edge of the cliff. Then we walked to a point where the grand vista of Fish Creek Canyon struck us. The narrow one-lane Apache Trail disappeared behind the big rock formations, and reappeared in the distant bottom of the canyon. The road dropped 900 feet in a mile at Fish Creek Canyon. I bet riding on that road was hairy. The sheer rock towers above the canyon rose 2,000 feet. It sure was grandeur. There was a car going down the road slowly. Wow!

Grand-Vista-at-Fish-Creek-Hill

Grand Vista at Fish Creek Hill

Suddenly, several dark colored creatures with long tails sticking up appeared below us. But we only had a glimpse of them and had no clue what they were. Now we searched the Internet and think they might be white-nosed coati. A photographer carried a tripod walking down the cliff to the other side of the canyon to take photos. The cliff he was on looked like layers of brown granite laden with green lichens. There were a few saguaros, chollas and prickly pear cacti grown there. When we were about to leave, we were surprised to see two cars climbing up Apache Trail from Fish Creek Canyon.

Superstition-Saloon

Superstition Saloon

We stopped at Superstition Saloon at Tortilla Flat and had their famous Killer Chili with tortilla for lunch. The jaw dropping feature of the saloon was the dollar bills covered walls. The waiter told us there were $300,000 on the walls. Incredible! Most of them were $1 bills. Most bills were signed and drawn by the customers.

Although we didn’t see all three lakes, we explored part of Apache Trail and Canyon lake and canyons along the road. Superstition Mountains have a volcanic history. Volcanos collapsed and became calderas. The three lakes are reservoirs on Salt River. Theodore Roosevelt Dam harnessed the water of Salt River. Water from the reservoirs turned this part of Arizona desert into an oasis. The legendary Lost Dutchman mine remains a mystery and attracts people to explore Superstitions.

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