apache trail

Day 111 – Arizona’s Apache Trail Part 2

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Day 111 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

The Apache and Coronado Trails

Petey and I awoke this morning to sporadic sprinkles on the Apache Trail.  We hit the road early as the weather forecast called for rain all day near Phoenix and snow on Sunday on the Coronado Trail which was my next scenic drive.  The Coronado Trail is sometimes closed from Alpine to Morenci, thus given the weather, I sped up my travels a bit to visit at least half the trail today.

Getting to Theodore Roosevelt Dam and Lake

We left Apache Lake and continued down the washboard, dirt road.  I enjoyed my free massage as we bounced along Apache Trail to Theodore Roosevelt Dam and Lake.  Petey, however, prone to car sickness as a puppy, looked a little grim.  It might have had something to do with the large quantities of dog food he got his nose into while I ate dinner last night.  I dog proofed my people-food containers so well, he resorted to his Iam’s lamb and rice.

The Apache Trail changed to pavement just before we reached the dam.  We pulled in the parking lot and walked down the long, wheel chair accessible ramp to a covered observation deck.  With pavement everywhere and no one around, I let Petey follow me off leash.  Just as we reached the gazebo, the rain fell at a quickened pace.

Petey’s Mishap on the Apache Trail

As I was reading a few of the signs about the construction of the dam, I heard a whimper behind me.  I turned around to see Petey next to a bush, holding his right paw up with a thorny twig hanging from it.  Poor, pitiful, Petey!  I bent over his paw in the rain and in a fluid motion jerked the inch long thorn from the heel of his paw as if I were ripping a band-aid off hairy skin.

He yelped as blood spurted out from behind his pad.  I applied pressure to stop the flow, but it kept pouring over my hand and dripping onto the pavement.  It was beginning to look like a crime scene (not really), but I was glad it was raining because the sidewalk needed a washing.

As the rain kept coming, I coaxed my poor boy to VANilla 100 yards away.  He limped along and stopped every so often to lick his wound.  Luckily, we left most of the blood at the dam and used a little doggie towel to soak up the rest.  Whew, it has been a rough morning for my mutt!

Theodore Roosevelt Dam

The Roosevelt Dam’s first stone was laid in place in 1906.  Over the next five years, 350,000 cubic feet of block was cut and placed into the dam.  The blocks of stone were carved out of the canyon walls, lifted by a block and tackle, and pulled along a cable.  It was not uncommon for a buckle to break and the blocks to fall into the canyon.  The final stone was placed in 1911.

Theodore Roosevelt Dam on the apache trail

Several thousand men including stone and timber cutters, canal builders, and horse and mule tenders worked on the project.  Common laborers were paid $2.50 a day while powdermen, blacksmiths, and masons earned $4-$5 per hour.  The dam is the largest masonry dam in the world rising 280 feet high.  Its width at the top is 16 feet and at the bottom 184 feet.

From 1989-1996, the dam was modified as it was determined that the largest probable flood that could flow into the reservoir was far greater than the dam could hold.  For several hundred million dollars, the dam was reinforced with concrete and steel.  In addition, its height was raised 77 feet and its storage capacity was increased by 20%.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge

Before the modifications could begin on the dam, crews had to construct a $21 million bridge to relocate the traffic off the top of the dam.  The Roosevelt Lake Bridge, spanning 1,080 feet, is the longest two-lane, single-span, steel-arch bridge in North America.   It was quite beautiful.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge on the apache trail

Tonto National Monument

After a visit to the bridge, we carried on to Tonto National Monument.  The monument is home to cliff dwellings occupied by the Salado Indians over 600 years ago.  A half mile walk along a paved, cacti lined interpretive trail took us to the entrance.  The pueblo walls were constructed of quartzite stones held in place by mortar of clay and caliche soil.  A roof of pinyon pine and reeds, capped with mud, covered the six foot high walls.

tonto national monument

Not sure if the monument allowed dogs, we only made a brief visit.  I didn’t see any signs posted, but chose not to ask the ranger as it was clear Petey did not want to stay in VANilla despite his injured paw.  In fact, just like a child, once distracted, he forgot about the morning mayhem.

The Coronado Trail

Petey and I continued on the Apache Trail southeast to Globe where we turned onto 60 headed toward Eager, the beginning of the next scenic drive.  Route 60 afforded grand views as well, despite the rainy weather.  We weaved around the turns and climbed up the cliffs when my brake light illuminated.  CRAP!  I have had my brakes checked every 5,000 miles and knew I would be replacing them with my next oil change in 1,500 miles.  What an inconvenient place for this to happen!

My day was turning out like Petey’s.  I had 40 plus miles of 6% grades and tight turns before I arrived at the closest town, Show Low.  I drove below the speed limit and engine braked the whole way except for when I stopped to take a few scenic shots.  Not knowing the population of the town, I hoped and prayed for a Firestone.  With a car dealership on the right and auto parts store on the left of the main road, the town was bigger than I expected, 12,000 people or so.  A few miles later, I found a Firestone…YES…but it closed at 1pm.  I was an hour too late…bummer.

Show Low

Show Low is big enough for a Wal-Mart Supercenter complete with a  Tire & Lube so I called the listed number.  “Nope,” the voice chimed on the other end of the phone, “We don’t work on brakes and most of the small auto shops that do are closed for the weekend.”

“Yes, I know,” I responded, “I’m parked at the Firestone”.  I was resigned to hang out in the Wal-Mart parking lot for the next two days when I found a Jiffy Lube…dang, another “No”.  He gave me the number to Jay’s…not open.

Ok, so here I am at Wal-Mart in VANilla covered in a mixture of ice, rain and snow.  I will probably get my oil changed and purchase a new set of tires in the morning since I have to kill a day. Monday, I’ll go back to Firestone for some brakes.  I hope VANilla’s brakes are easily replaceable!  Then I’ll have to see if I can drive the Coronado Trail or if the road is closed from the snow.  ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

3 thoughts on “Day 111 – Arizona’s Apache Trail Part 2

  1. I hope Show Low treats you OK. I lived in Pinetop, AZ and in Whiteriver, AZ on the Apache Indian Reservation in 1998 for a few months. Couldn’t take it after a while and moved to Flagstaff.
    So, what you’re describing sounds very familiar, even though many years have vanished under the bridge since then.
    There are many cool things to see and do in Arizona. Be well and take care.
    Hope you make it to the Pacific Northwest 🙂


    1. I’ll be in Flagstaff and the Pacific Northwest. Things are currently rough in Show Low. No brake mechanics, no rent cars…dad in ICU…most likely putting trip on hold and flying home, but current situation not helping! Think I’ll be sleeping at Wal-Mart one more night…hopefully the snow has stopped.

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