Camping at Tortilla Flat in Tonto National Forest
Told by Kuma and written by Lorraine Bossé-Smith
Hasn’t our weather been just divine? I love the cooler temps because it means we can go places that are too hot to visit in the summer – like Tortilla Flat in the Tonto National Forest. Me and my family loaded up the camper trailer, and off we went!
We drove to South Phoenix on the 101 freeway and connected to the 202 towards Apache Junction. I thought we might be going to the Superstition Mountains again to look for that lost treasure, but we kept on going, hooking up with the 88, also known as the Apache Trail. I’ve heard my dad mention Apache Indians, so I was on alert!
We didn’t see any Apaches, but we did have to cross one-lane bridges twice. Humans have to take turns crossing Canyon Lake, which is a very long body of water where boats were out enjoying the great weather. We didn’t tow our boat this time, but we might be back another day for that. Today, we were on a mission to end up at Tortilla Flat, population six.
After Canyon Lake, the paved road ended and turned to dirt. It is well maintained, and all sorts of vehicles, including motorcycles, were traveling on it. Crews were out working on the road, so I bet the dirt section will be paved before long. Expect some delays as lots of people visit Tortilla Flat on the weekend.
Tortilla Flat is an authentic Western town located in the Tonto National Forest. It has a restaurant, ice cream shop, and gift store along with a small museum. The town folk are very friendly – all six of them! They are open all year-round, so stop by and sit for a spell.
We took a left there at town toward the Tortilla Flat campground and found a dandy site with great views of the Tonto National Forest. Apparently, this campground is pretty new, so it wasn’t full. I’m sure as people discover this gem, it will get busier. They close for the summer because of the heat, and access is first come, first served. We had to drive back to town to buy our Tonto National Park pass, which is $8. That’s it, though. No other fees, and the $8 includes all hook ups for campers as well as dumping. To be honest, I’m not sure what all that means, but it made my daddy happy, so I was good with it.
We set up camp, and by “we,” I mean my humans. I scoped out the area and sniffed all the fabulous scents of the wild outdoors! We were surrounded by mountains and cactuses. The cliffs were green, but it wasn’t grass or trees. It was lichen, my mom said. Interesting. On to the next thing…
Since the drive was only two hours, we had the rest of the day to explore, so back in the car we went. We continued on the Apache Trail past Tortilla Flat. The road is dirt and rougher, so some cars may not want to embark on the journey. We wound our way down into the canyon and enjoyed a nice hike out to several overlooks. We could see a bit of Canyon Lake way down below. The clouds started rolling in, so we turned around near the Apache caves – big holes in the rocks where Indians once hid. If we kept going, we would have arrived at the Apache Resort and Lake, and past it is another lake called Roosevelt. Driving on rough dirt roads is slow going, so allow plenty of time should you venture out. We were surprised at how many people were there, so that slowed things down. Many places only have room enough for one vehicle, and the drop offs are steep. Eeeeee. Don’t look down!
We made it back in time to cook dinner before dark. The sky got dark fast, and we admired all the stars. What a day! I was definitely ready to snooze. In the middle of the night, the winds kicked up something fierce. I wasn’t scared or anything, but I figured my mom might need my body heat to stay warm, so I jumped up on the human bed to sleep. I’m such a thoughtful dog!
One of my favorite things about camping is breakfast! My dad cooks up bacon, and I just love bacon! The wind settled down mostly, and we had a leisurely morning before heading back to Phoenix. The drive seemed to go quickly, and we were home sitting by our pool in no time. Gotta love Arizona; I know I do. Woof.
Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!
– Enjoy my blog at lorrainebosse-smith.com/category/kuma/ and be sure to follow me on Facebook: facebook.com/Kumathedog
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.