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       Apache Junction, Arizona

This town is located on the eastern edge of Metro Phoenix, primarily in Pinal County. It is easy to reach using the US 60, known locally as the Superstition Freeway. Incorporated in 1978, population of year round residents has grown from just under 10,000 in 1980 to just over 22,000 in 1997. Apache Junction is experiencing the explosive growth typical of the East Valley, and the year round population could easily be over 30,000 by the year 2000. On top of that, an estimated 40,000 winter visitors call it home every year due to its proximity to Phoenix yet lower cost of living. "A.J." is truly a snow bird town. The town basically caters to recreation and retirement, and has the distinction of having a municipal Rodeo Arena.

Apache Junction is home of the Superstition Mountains, made famous by Jacob Waltz, a Dutchman who never revealed the location of his gold mine. People still die every year looking for the Lost Dutchman's Mine. The town has its roots in being a stop along the Apache Trail, originally built to haul workers and supplies during the construction of Roosevelt Dam, which now leads past Canyon, Apache, and Roosevelt Lakes, and eventually to the mining towns of Globe, and Miami.

Places to Eat:

Elvira's:  Right on Apache Trail, just East of Ironwood on the North side. Mexican Food. The food here is awesome, but the decor is less than. Don't let that bother you, though, because if you like Mexican food, you will love Elvira's. Open Seasonally. Budget.

Mining Camp Restaurant:  American Food. Truly one of Apache Junction's attractions. They have gone through great lengths to create atmosphere here, and it has paid off. Meals are served all you can eat, and the restaurant has a gift shop selling souvenirs, articles and relics of the old mining days. It is about 4 miles up Highway 88, a.k.a. Apache Trail. Call (480) 982-3181 for information. Open seasonally.

Things to Do:

Apache Greyhound Park:  Dog Racing afternoons and one of the East Valleys biggest Park and Swap Meets. Good food, bargains, and kinda fun overall. OTB on the Phoenix dog track available.  Located on Apache Trail, between Meridian Road and Delaware Drive.  For info call about the swap meet at (480) 832-3270 or about the Track at (480) 982-2371.

Goldfield Ghost Town:  Okay, so this is a little outside of A.J., but its not closer to anything else. In the 1890's it had a population of about 4000 people, pretty booming for the times. There were 50 working mines in the district, and so it was TOWN! Now it offers a guided tour of a reconstructed portion of the Mammoth Mine, some shops and a saloon that serves full meals. You can also ride a narrow gauge train, one of two that I am aware of in Arizona that bill themselves as Arizona's only narrow gauge railroads... Here you will also find the Superstition Mountain/Lost Dutchman Museum which really goes into the Folklore and Fiction of the wilderness, as well as the facts. And if you want some books about the mine, this is a must. Kinda touristy, but fun, especially if you want to learn a little about the Wild West. You can find all this about 4 miles up the trail (SR 88), close to the Mining Camp Restaurant. Admission to the Ghost Town is free, the train ride is $4.00 for adults, $2.00 for children, and the mine tour is also $4.00/adults, $2.00/children. 460 N. Mammoth Road. Call the Museum at (480) 983-4888 or the ghost town at (480) 983-0333.

Dolly Steamboat Cruises: Ride a paddlewheel boat around the secluded waterways of Canyon Lake and see the "Junior Grand Canyon." The commentary tells some more about the history and lore of the area. Cool if you like nature, a little slow if not. Again, it is not really in A.J., but closer to there than anywhere else. The day cruise is $14.00, and the dinner cruise is $36.00. For info call (480) 827-9144.

Renaissance Festival: Held weekends in February and March. There is a whole town built out in the desert, used only for this festival. The workers dress in costume, and the atmosphere is great. It is pretty pricy, and most of the food is kind of mediocre, as is the jousting, but somehow I find myself going back year after year. With its downsides, it is still fun. All kinds of artsy shopping, and kids between the ages of 6-16 have an absolute blast. For info call (520) 463-2700.

Places to Stay:

Seasonal Apartments/Condominiums: This is the good stuff, condo rentals mostly. If you want fully furnished, everything included vacation rentals call Jeff Twito at Cassia Real Estate (480) 924-6003 or (800) 736-0088. They do offer long term rentals as well if you want to stay. They have some of the nicest properties in Apache Junction, and they are clean and well cared for. Weekly, monthly, and longer rentals. Great for extended business trips, priced accordingly. This doesn't quite fit in the price guide.

Holiday Inn Express:  A pretty typical Holiday Inn, I guess. Amenities include a heated pool, spa, Jacuzzi, conference room. 1101 W. Apache Trail, (480)982-9200 Moderate to Deluxe.

Superstition Grand Hotel:  This is your best bet for a place that will give you a unique feeling of staying in A.J. Heated pool, spa, tennis court. 201 W. Apache Trail. (480)982-7411 Moderate to Deluxe for a room with a spa in it. Also has a car collection on display.

Super 8 Motel of Apache Junction:  No pets, but they do have a putting green. Heated pool, spa, breakfast. Pretty typical Super 8. Idaho and the Freeway. (480)288-8888. Moderate to Deluxe.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch:  A bed and breakfast/guest ranch. This place is pretty cool, but a little costlier than the others. Speaking for myself, this would be my number one pick in A.J. if you are only staying for a day or two. (480) 982-2112 Deluxe.

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� Copyright 1998 Q87 International & Vincent Davis.  All rights reserved.
Last revised: October 30, 1998