Arizona Travels: Exploring Roosevelt Dam & Lake

Sometimes “over there” is much more interesting than what’s right in front of us. I’ve been guilty of that recently. I’ve spent countless hours looking at airline tickets and destinations with the end result being wasted time. It’s fun to idle away time thinking about exotic adventures in a far-away land. But the reality is much harsher. The three Fs (family obligations, finances, and free time) put a limit on just how much adventure we can dive into.

One solution is to look closer to home. Not too far from me is the largest lake in Arizona, Roosevelt Lake It’s a popular place, but I’ve never been there. So not too long ago I decided it was something worth going to see.

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Forest Service map of the lake area (PDF link).

There’s two ways to get there. The highway and the dirt. I took the dirt road there and the highway home. The dirt road is graded and drivable in a passenger car. The only really hairy part is a long switchback decent down the side of a mountain. The road is about one-and-a-half cars wide. On the way down I had to pull over in the few wide spots about a dozen times to let cars and trucks go by. Other than that I mostly had the road to myself.

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Asphalt starts here when coming from Phoenix.
After passing Apache Lake, the first sign of pavement is at the turn off to Roosevelt Dam’s maintenance road. Just up the road from there is an overlook with a view of the dam

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The downstream side of the dam shows the supporting buildings.
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The generator house and spillway.
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One the the upper locks on the dam.
From the overlook on the lake side of the dam you can see the lake’s water level and the bridge passing over the lake.

 

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Lake side of dam. The bleached out portion above the water is where the lake level used to be. The drain at the bottom left also used to be underwater.
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This suspension bridge was built in 1996 when Highway 188 was rerouted from the top of the dam.
I explored the west shore of the lake, and found where the campgrounds were. I was surprised at how nice they were. All of the spaces had a shades over the picnic table (there’s no shade trees in Arizona, in case you’re reading this from somewhere that has rainfall) and a fire pits.

Then I took the highway home. The lake road (AZ-188) joins into Highway 60 just before Globe. At the junction is great restaurant, Judy’s Cookhouse. It’s a great place to stop to get a late lunch/early dinner for the drive back into Phoenix. I’ve a had the Bacon Burger a couple of times now. It’s always been excellent.

This trip was a wakeup call. I need to look closer to home. There’s plenty here. And it’s all stuff I can do that doesn’t interfere with any “big” plans I have.

I’m already planning a trip back. This time I’m going to camp overnight.

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