ILX Sunday Drive on the Apache Trail in Arizona

Odometer (Legend):  522,443


Odometer (ILX):  42,221


Trip Distance:  179 Miles


Time for a little 4×4 action in my luxury car… again.

In March 2008, I took my Acura Legend where (maybe) no Acura had gone before:  a dirt road that was once the main way to get from Roosevelt, Arizona to Apache Junction, Arizona.  The total drive distance when going this route is 45 miles.  To avoid the dirt road and go around it on paved streets, the distance is significantly longer at 79 miles.  The “Apache Trail,” as it became named, is also known as Arizona Highway 88 and to this day is one of my favorite roads to drive.


Here’s the video for those who’d rather watch than read:

My friend Matt and I decided to do a little Sunday drive and some sightseeing in the Superstition Mountains east of the Phoenix valley, so we set out in two vehicles:  My 2013 Acura ILX, and his work-issued 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.  Highway 88 is lined with rivers and lakes, including Canyon Lake pictured below.


For the most part, it’s a fun, twisty two-laner with very few passing lanes.  There are two one-lane bridges to cross.


We made our way toward Tortilla Flat which was once a common stopping point when the Apache Trail was more heavily traveled.


Quick pit stop in Tortilla Flat for a bathroom break.  We parked next to a nice 370Z 6-speed.


The misspelling about the “dinning” room entrance at the Tortilla Flat restaurant is almost too far fetched to be true.  I think they’ve left it there intentionally to add to the quirkiness of this place.  The walls are absolutely covered with $1 bills.  I would have added my own, but I needed to save my $1 bills for a car wash later in the day.  You’ll see why.


Though once home to a motel, Tortilla Flat is now just a place to grab food and supplies.


The road continues paved for several miles beyond Tortilla Flat, but then:


For the next 22 miles, we curved around rocks & rivers as we made our way toward Roosevelt Lake on the graded dirt road.


There were several one-lane bridges to cross.  This one crossed over Fish Creek.


The ILX handled the adverse terrain with poise.  I did have to disable the traction control system to get maximum grip – on some of the washboard ruts, the system would disable power to one of the front tires and keep me from maintaining momentum.


I got a picture with our two transport vehicles.  The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder was featured back in March on a trip to Bagdad, Arizona.  It’s a Middle Eastern-spec vehicle with speed in kilometers per hour on the gauge cluster.


Saddle up – we’re off again.


Matt and I traded off taking the lead on the drive.  I ate his dust for a good part of it.  I think my ILX will probably be due for an engine air filter change at its next service.  The suspension did a great job of absorbing the uneven road.  There were a few sights to see along the way, including the Apache Lake Marina.


Soon we were just 12 miles from the junction with Highway 188.


A few more bridges, and we were home free.


The road descended in elevation until we again met up with the Salt River.  From there, we followed it upstream toward the Roosevelt Dam.


Some of you may recognize this place from a drive a few weeks ago when I went with several friends to check out the Roosevelt Dam and its impressive accompanying bypass bridge.


It was a great trip and one that I’d highly recommend!

I’ve got a few other random news bits before signing off for this weekend’s entry:

1)  In November 2012, I drove the ILX back to Phoenix from southern Utah, and I took a picture at the historic Marble Canyon Lodge on Highway 89A in northern Arizona.  Phoenix news station 3TV ended up using my picture in an article this week after the lodge burned down.  Check out slide 6 of 6 with the ILX parked out front!  Screen capture below.


Pretty sad to see the 1920’s lodge end up like this.


2)  Anybody hear about Irv Gordon’s latest in his 1966 Volvo?  He’s only 30,000 miles away from hitting 3 million miles!


Here’s the video.  This guy’s an inspiration.  I’ve tried contacting him to introduce myself but haven’t had any luck yet.

3)  I scanned some old Legend promotional materials this week.  I’ve got a huge collection of magazine articles and brochures related to all things Acura, but specifically about the Legend.  Here’s a reprint from Road & Track magazine.


It’s kind of fun to read the specifications for the Legend Coupe & Sedan from a “Preferred Pre-Owned” brochure.


4)  It’s 4,052 miles from Scottsdale, Arizona to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on the Arctic Circle.  This would be the road trip of all road trips.  My friend Ben told me he’s interested in doing the drive someday, and the more I look into it, the more obsessed I get with it.  Would anyone like to come along?


5)  Congrats to my friend Chase from Austin, Texas who just picked up a 2013 Fathom Blue Pearl Acura ILX 2.0 on Friday!


Just 23 miles on the odometer when he took delivery!


6)  Speaking of ultra-low mileage, ever heard of a 50+ year-old vehicle with fewer than 10 miles on the odometer?  It’s really possible.  A friend today told me about a classic car gold mine of sorts in Pierce, Nebraska:  a Chevy dealership that’s been closed for decades and which houses dozens of “new” cars that have never been sold.  A 1958 Cameo pickup truck with 1 mile on the odometer seems like a pretty unreal find, but it does exist.  The truck, and nearly 400 other vehicles, will go up for auction this September as the owners of the now-closed dealership (now in their late 90’s) liquidate everything.


Video here:

Have a great week!

15 Responses to “ILX Sunday Drive on the Apache Trail in Arizona”

  1. Tyson:

    Where do I sign up for this trip to Alaska and Prudhoe Bay? I was just thinking about this the other day. I would be the trip of a lifetime. And an excellent way for me to pile on the miles as I strive for 250,000 miles in my car.

    I would have one request. if we are going to Alaska, please please lets make trip during the Summer. I hear it gets pretty chilly over there during the winter. 😉


  2. Hello Tyson:

    Are you considering doing this trip this year or in 2014 or 2015?

    Hopefully it is in 2014 or 2015. Planning for this trip would require me to do a lot of preparation.

    I believe there is only one gas station in that 400 mile stretch if that gas station still exists. I will be very happy knowing that my fuel tank takes 17.2 gallons and I can do 30+ miles a gallon. My range is 500+. I think maybe the people in Japan who built my car had the Dalton Highway in mind when they designed my car 😉

    Although it is privately owned land at Prudhoe Bay, we can get access if we arrange for it beforehand. There is something called the Artic Ocean Shuttle. It will take you up to the Artic Ocean. Getting approval before hand will allow us to see the Artic Ocean. And I would not mind seeing whales splashing in the distance. 🙂

    I just saw that map again you put in your blog of the distance from Phoenix to Prudhoe Bay and recalculated using Miami. OH MY GOD! IT WILL BE INSANE!

    • Carlos, it’ll be 2014 or 2015. I’ve got to get my passport squared away, plus I’m guessing this one will require a couple weeks off work. My days off this year are all pretty much earmarked already for existing trips. Let’s definitely talk more as it gets closer. I’m onboard!

  3. Highmileage Says:

    You gonna hit that auction in Nebraska?

  4. Wow. That auction in Nebraska is going to be something else. Such old cars with so little mileage. It is like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. Cars just frozen in time.

    I started looking at the inventory and started to get nervous when I saw that there are some Fords. If the inventory had a brand new 1976 Ford Granada, I would have booked a ticket to Nebraska. No questions asked.

    The 1976 Ford Granada was my first car. My father taught me how to drive. I first took the wheel of this vehicle when I was 15 years old. Almost 30 years have passed but I can still remember the very first day i went for a drive with me at the wheel.

    The Acura TSX is a superior car in every way. But one always remembers his first ride. Below is a picture of what the car looked like. The car in the picture looks almost the same but mine had a red vinyl roof covering half of the roof. Good memories.……0.0…1c..17.img.Qz0nQEY6508&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48293060,d.eWU&fp=438c25d0b3a6013e&biw=1280&bih=854&facrc=_&imgdii=_&

    • Carlos, the link works for me when I copy and paste it. Good ole 1970’s iron! That looks like a nice durable first car. It’s true what you say – a first car always carries with it a ton of memories! I’ve never been in a Granada. Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve even ever seen one. Looks like a tank! I’m sure you had some fun with that at age 16.

  5. The link of the car did not come out above. Hopefully it comes out below.……0.0…1c..17.img.Qz0nQEY6508&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48293060,d.eWU&fp=438c25d0b3a6013e&biw=1280&bih=854&facrc=_&imgdii=_&

  6. The link above does work but you will have to copy the whole address and put it in the address box. It must be too long because it does not work above. Only half of the link is highlighted.

  7. somewhere on the walls of Tortilla Flat is a dollar bill with my last name on it! Back in 2008 when my Uncle took me and his family there we wrote all over it and posted it up on end wall to our booth.

    Oh and #4) above: you would have to stop for a few hours and visit.

    • Dave, I think I saw your dollar bill there from 2008! Haha. There are probably $1-2k worth of bills hanging on the walls around there. Regarding the trip to Alaska, Ben Lin and I are already in the planning stages. Unfortunately, since the shoreline is all privately owned by oil companies, you can only get there by taking a $37 tour which takes you the 8 miles from Deadhorse to the water line. But Ben and I are determined to get our vehicles there somehow 🙂

  8. I never. I cannot get over that “DINNING ROOM” sign, carved in wood and everything. For reals. It beats a misplaced apostrophe any old day!

    Keep those blog posts happening!

  9. My friend had a 1976 Granada and we all had CB radios. I used to call him the guy in the cracker box mobile!

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