One of the most popular day trips for anyone visiting Mesa is up the historic Apache Trail through the mysterious Superstition Mountains and into the foothills of the Tonto Natural Forest - the fifth largest forest in the United States. To this day, the area continues to pay homage to its Western roots which took shape in the late 1800s. On this scenic drive guests will encounter an authentic old west stagecoach stop, a ghost town, the famous Elvis Presley Chapel, and the majesty of a mountain lake, all nestled in the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape that captures the true essence of Arizona.
GHOSTS AND GOLD
For more than 115 years, Goldfield Ghost Town has welcomed travelers from all over the world to discover the charm and history of this authentic gold mining town. In its heyday, Goldfield was a busy bustling little outpost perched atop a small hill between the mighty Superstition Mountains to the east and the Goldfield Mountains to the west. The first gold-strike was made in 1892, and it took just a little under a year before the town came to life. Today, visitors can walk down Main Street, explore the many shops and historic buildings and tour the historic Mammoth Gold Mine and Goldfield Superstition Historical Museum. Popular attractions for kids and adults are panning for gold and hopping aboard Arizona's only narrow gauge train. Don't miss one of the daily gunfights presented by the Goldfield Gunfighters and the underground mine tours.
SUPERSTITION & LORE IN THE SONORAN DESERT
As you go further along the Apache Trail, make a stop at Lost Dutchman State Park.
Here one can get up close and personal with the ghostly and volcanic, Superstition Mountains which rise some 2,000 feet into the desert sky. Hidden in the depths of this forbidding range is the Lost Dutchman, one of the most storied "lost mines" of the West. Five hiking trails are offered here that range in distance and elevation. Open year-round from sunrise to 10 p.m., the U.S. Forest Service protects these beautiful mountains in the nation's most popular designated wilderness area.
Just around the bend, you can stumble upon the tiny Tortilla Flat stagecoach stop settlement that once boasted a hotel, general store and saloon. Today, it boasts six full-time residents and a saloon with saddles for barstools and walls festooned with currency and business cards from around the world. Don't miss out on the "Killer Chili," prickly pear ice cream and other Southwestern specialties.
AN OASIS IN THE DESERT
Complete your tour at Canyon Lake with a "Mark Twain" voyage aboard the Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a sternwheeler paddleboat. Cruise the lake's secluded inner waterways and photograph desert bighorn sheep and other wildlife. The 90-minute nature cruise or twilight dinner cruise is the perfect complement to the Apache Trail experience.
After a day of driving and discovery, circle back and stop at the world famous Mining Camp Restaurant for a hearty meal of good ol' Western food. Nestled at the base of the beautiful Superstition Mountains, the restaurant's unique concept follows the theme of the early mining camp cook shanty. Here, you can reminisce about your day back in time and dine on good food, shared in plentiful quantities.
For more on planning your tour to Mesa, Arizona call 480-827-4700 or us at: www.VisitMesa.com.