Apache Junction (or AJ, as the locals call it) sits at the foot of the Superstition Mountains and just to the south of the Goldfield Mountains, at the east end of the Valley of the Sun. The town’s name comes from the junction of US-60 and the Apache Trail (AZ-88). It’s a young town filled with retirees and, in the winter months, snowbirds. AJ has also become a bedroom community for the Phoenix workers and US-60 has become the Superstition Freeway to keep up with it. It is also just to the east of the Maricopa-Pinal County line.
Before the coming of I-10, AJ was on the main route from Tucson to Phoenix. US-60 ran along the main drag, known as Apache Trail, before continuing to Mesa and Tempe (they were more mundane in having Main Street as the name). Now it’s all one big sprawl from Phoenix out past Apache Junction.
AJ is the jumping-off point for the Apache Trail , which winds over the Superstitions past Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat , and Apache Lake to end at the Roosevelt Lake dam. AZ-88 joins AZ-188 there and goes off toward Globe.
Closer to home, AJ hosts a rodeo or two, a marathon , and Lost Dutchman State Park. A renaissance festival is just to the southeast in February and March each year. To the northeast along the Apache Trail are the Goldfield Ghost Town and the Superstition Mountain Museum , which is a good place to go hear the legend of the Lost Dutchman. A little further east is Canyon Lake, with swimming, boating and the Dolly Steamboat. To the northwest you can go over Usery Pass and visit the fourth in the Salt River chain of reservoirs, Saguaro Lake. Along the way, you’ll pass a section of the Salt that is filled during summer months with people floating down the river on inner tubes.
Tours on horseback and by Jeep offer a way to get into nature that’s more intimate than driving past in a car. If you really want to get intimate with nature, though, the hiking in the Superstitions is the way to go!
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