Tucson to Apache Junction
Basin and Range
Tucson Elevation (feet)
Apache Junction Elevation (feet)
US Route 89 from Nogales to Flagstaff was decommissioned in 1992. To follow the historic route, take Arizona Route 77 to Oracle Junction, Arizona Route 79 to Florence Junction and US Route 60 to Apache Junction. Continuing through the Sonoran Desert north of the Catalina Mountains, Historic 89 crosses the Gila River near Florence. As it approaches the Salt River Valley, the volcanic mass of the Superstition Mountains dominates the view.
Basin and Range
Saguaro National Park
The most southern national park along US Route 89, Saguaro, is divided into two districts on each side of Tucson. Both sections feature mountains separated by broad valleys characteristic of the Basin and Range geographic province. The park preserves Sonoran Desert plants and animals dominated by the majestic saguaro cactus. In Saguaro East the eight-mile paved Cactus Forest Drive winds through an extensive saguaro forest and offers a close-up view of life in the desert. In Saguaro West, the unpaved Bajada Loop Drive passes saguaro forest. There are also two short nature trails with interpretive signage.
Surrounded by rugged mountains, Tucson rises out of the Santa Cruz River valley. A modern city with ancient roots, Tucson incorporates Native American, Spanish and Anglo culture elements to create a diverse experience for travelers as part of the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. Notable cultural institutions include the Arizona State Museum highlighting indigenous Southwest peoples, the Tucson Museum of Art and the University of Arizona. In addition, because of its sustainable agriculture and multicultural food history, UNESCO has named Tucson a World City of Gastronomy.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
A short drive to the west of Historic Highway 89 (Arizona Route 79) will bring you to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Constructed during the 1300s, the Great House and the compound surrounding it were the center of an agricultural community. An extensive series of canals brought irrigation water from the Gila River to fields of beans, squash and corn. Casa Grande was abandoned around 1450 for reasons that are still a matter of speculation. In 1892 Casa Grande Ruins became the first prehistoric and cultural reserve in the US. It was then re-designated as a national monument in 1918. A steel canopy was built over the Great House in 1932 to protect it from further deterioration.
Lost Dutchman State Park
The park, named for a fabled lost gold mine, is located in the Sonoran Desert, 40 miles east of Phoenix. Several trails lead into the Superstition Wilderness and surrounding Tonto National Forest. Take a stroll along the Native Plant Trail or hike the challenging Siphon Draw Trail to the top of the Flatiron. Depending on the year’s rainfall, you might be treated to a carpet of desert wildflowers in the spring.
View photo galleries of special attractions along Historic Highway 89 between Tucson and Apache Junction…
Towns, Cities and Reservations
Public Lands and Historic Places
Saguaro National Park-Tucson Mountains District
Saguaro National Park-Rincon Mountains District
Tucson Mountain County Park
Coronado National Forest
Pusch Ridge Wilderness
Sky Island Scenic Byway
Catalina State Park
Tom Mix Monument
McFarland State Historic Park
Tonto National Forest
Lost Dutchman State Park
Santa Catalina Mountains
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