State Route 88 (Apache Trail)

State Route 88 (Apache Trail)

Contents

Overview

Due to extensive roadway damage and rock debris following severe flooding in 2019, a 5-mile, unpaved section of State Route 88 (Apache Trail) from the Fish Creek Hill Overlook/Rest Area (milepost 222) to milepost 227 near Reavis Trailhead Road remains closed for public safety reasons.
The Woodbury Fire in June 2019 consumed almost 124,000 acres of the Tonto National Forest. In September 2019 a storm dumped approximately six inches of rain onto the fire scar and the runoff severely damaged large portions of the road, with the most damage being in the area between Fish Creek Hill Overlook and milepost 227 (near Reavis Trailhead Road). The damage included a large rockslide that left that section of the road unpassable.

SR 88 Apache trail Map

While ADOT has a highway easement for SR 88, the underlying landowner is the U.S. Forest Service. ADOT, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Game and Fish, is currently allowing UTVs, equestrians, hikers, and bicyclists to access public lands via SR 88 at Reavis Trailhead Road.

ADOT crews have worked to restore access to key destinations along the trail, including Tortilla Flat and Canyon Lake. Motorists can also reach Apache Lake by taking SR 188 either from US 60 or SR 87 and taking SR 88 west from Roosevelt. In October 2022 ADOT reopened a 1.7-mile section of SR 88 at the Apache Vista gate (mileposts 227- 229) to provide access to Reavis Trailhead Road/Forest Road 212.

As conditions and roadway restrictions/closures change along SR 88, ADOT will continue to inform the public.

  • Apache Junction (milepost 194) to Fish Creek Hill Overlook/Rest Area (milepost 222) - Open to traffic
  • Fish Creek Hill Overlook/Rest Area (milepost 222) to milepost 227 (near Reavis Trailhead Road) - Closed to traffic; UTVs, equestrians, hikers and bicyclists allowed
  • Milepost 227 (near Reavis Trailhead Road) to Roosevelt Lake/SR 188 (milepost 242) - Open to traffic

UPDATE

In October 2023, ADOT completed a study, which recommended $33.7 million in improvements to make SR 88 more accessible and resilient to severe weather. Those improvements, developed with extensive public involvement and identified in a Design Concept Report, include:

  • chip sealing, in which aggregate is compacted into heated asphalt liquid to create a more durable road surface, throughout the 5 miles;
  • widening the roadway to 15 feet in steeper areas;
  • increasing drainage capacity to accommodate heavier rainfall;
  • rehabilitating or repairing existing bridges; and
  • adding pullouts and other safety enhancements.

This longer-term plan does not have dedicated funding, and ADOT is pursuing federal funding to advance these longer-term improvements.

Next Steps

ADOT is investing $4 million for an interim project to restore limited access to 5 miles of SR 88 damaged by flooding in 2019, as it seeks funding for more extensive improvements needed to make the roadway more resilient and accessible long-term.

This interim plan was presented to the State Transportation Board for consideration at its Jan. 12, 2024 meeting and will restore the unpaved roadway to a condition that can accommodate vehicles with high clearance or four-wheel drive, as well as utility terrain vehicles. ADOT's interim plan calls for removing boulders on Fish Creek Hill, mitigating rockfall as needed between Fish Creek Hill Overlook and Fish Creek (mileposts 222-223.5), making repairs to retaining walls, installing new signage, cleaning and potentially replacing damaged drainage culverts and taking other steps to safely reopen the highway for high-clearance or four-wheel drive vehicles.

Maintenance crews are scheduled to begin work on preliminary items ahead of the construction project like removing vegetation, filling in eroded areas in the road surface and cleaning out culverts, beginning in February. Subject to approval from the State Transportation Board, contracted construction work would be expected to begin later this year. Before ADOT can schedule work, the U.S. Forest Service must review and approve the interim project design, since SR 88 follows an easement through federal land. In addition, the project must be designed to meet all applicable state and federal environmental requirements.

Background

State Route 88/Apache Trail was constructed in 1904 to provide construction access for the Roosevelt Dam, which was completed in 1911. Much of the route, particularly east of Tortilla Flat, retains its original historic character.

aerial overview of SR 88

Aerial overview of SR 88.

SR 88 Apache Trail

Damage to SR 88 caused by the Woodbury Fire.

Apach Lake Turn off project photo

Sign posted at the Apache Lake turn off.