Arizona Renaissance Festival

Arizona Renaissance Festival in Apache Junction

Each year in February and March, Apache Junction becomes part of a medieval European fair. The distinction between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is fluid and not a real delimitation criterion. There are actors in historical and fantastic costumes and armor, artists, artists, artisans, storytellers, etc. Of course there is also a knight tournament and a bird of prey performance. The property is accessed via State Highway 60 East, east of Apache Junction, just east of the Gold Canyon Golf Resort.


According to acronymmonster, those who drive east on the road avoid driving on the cliff side of the road. For the section between Apache Junction and Tonto National Monument at least 3 hours of driving are to be calculated. Due to the many worthwhile stops, you should take at least half a day or even a whole day for the route.

Between Fish Creek Hill and Roosevelt Dam, the Apache Trail is a pure sand track for 22 miles / 35 km, which is also very narrow. The route is winding and has several dangerous hairpin turns. Because of the sandy track, you should inquire about the weather before starting your journey: when it rains, the route is very difficult to drive on and should be avoided by inexperienced drivers without four-wheel drive vehicles. It is advisable to drive on in daylight and with a full tank (also because the route can be temporarily closed for various reasons – e.g. boat transport). After summer thunderstorms or prolonged rainfall, the unsurfaced section is hardly passable even by vehicles with a large ground clearance.
Because of the heavy traffic, avoid summer weekends and the days around Labor Day, Memorial Day, and July 4th.

Mile stones along the Apache Trail – Route 88 (Mile Posts)

  • 197: Stone monolith on the left side of the mountain slope
  • 200: The Bluebird Mine is just behind this road marking (closed)
  • 203: Weaver`s Needle Vista
  • 206: Shortly before this road marking is Apache Gap with a beautiful view of Four Peaks
  • 208: Canyon Lake Overlook
  • 210: One-way bridge (single lane brdige) over First Water Creek, Acacia picnic and swimming facilities, Palo Verde Boat Ramp and swimming facility, one-way bridge over Boulder Creek, Boulder Canyon Trail (right behind the bridge), Canyon Lake Marina (left behind the Bridge), Laguna Boat Ramp (behind the marina)
  • 213: Tortilla Flat Campground (left)
  • 220: End of the paving and the beginning of the graded road, a pure sand track that is also very narrow;
    One mile further is the start of the Tortilla Trailhead to the Tortilla Ranch (open to the public, four-wheel drive vehicle required)
  • 222: sloping road for a total of 3 miles down to Fish Creek Hill
  • 228: Apache Lake Vista (5 miles after this road marking is the simple campsite Burnt Corral Turnoff, Roosevelt Dam is soon in sight
  • 244: End of the Apache Trail


Altitude: Apache Trail around 1,000 m, Tono around 855 m at the visitor center, habitat: arid zone of the Sonoran Desert, climate: daytime temperatures in summer up to over 45 degrees Celsius.


The Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located in northeast Arizona in the Navajo Reserve and comprises four deeply cut rock gorges: the 56 km long Canyon del Muerto, accessed through the North Rim Drive, and the eponymous 42 km long canyon the Chelly (pronounced: känjän de- Sche-i), accessed through South Rim Drive, as well as Black Rock Canyon and Monument Canyon.

The red sandstone walls drop steeply up to 300 meters, the Chinle Creek rushes on the canyon floor and creates the conditions for agriculture. The water table is very close to the surface, so that water is always available even in times of summer drought. The main tourist attraction are the Anasazi ruins, which can be seen from viewpoints. Further information is available on the official website.

The canyon was continuously populated from 300 to 1300, the exhibitions in the visitor center document the enormous cultural development over 1,000 years. Long before the Navajo Indians (read: na-wa-ho), Pueblo Indians lived in this canyon. The Navajo referred to them as Anasazi (“Ancient Ones”, from around 250 AD). Chr.). Like in the Mesa Verde area The Anasazi initially built pithouses (pit houses) until they built and lived in cliff dwellings (pueblos) between 1100 and 1300. After the Anasazi disappeared around 1300 – probably because their arable land was silted up and drained – the area was temporarily settled by ancestors of the Hopi Indians until the first Navajo families arrived around 1700. The warlike Navajos offered the area ideal refuge and hiding places when they attacked the settled Pueblo tribes of the area and later white settlements on the Rio Grande.

In 1864, under the leadership of General Kit Carson, a US cavalry unit fought the Navajos in Canyon de Chelly using a tactic that consisted of burning fields, killing cattle, and harassing the elderly, children and women. Eventually 8,000 Navajos were rounded up and driven on the infamous “Long March” over 500 km to Bosque Redondo near Santa Fe. There they lived in a confined space with Mescalero Apaches, hunger and disease decimated the Indians. It was only after four years that the US government arranged for the camp to be dissolved and set up separate reservations for both tribes.

The canyons were formed by the erosive force of rivers that cut into a block of the Colorado Plateau as it began to rise 60 million years ago. The exposed De Chelly sandstone was formed from huge, petrified dunes that the wind accumulated here from 250 million years ago. The national monument east of the city of Chinle has had this status since 1931.

Time zone

The National Monument is located within a Navajo Indian Reservation. Mountain Daylight Time therefore applies, which means that unlike in other areas of Arizona, which does not know daylight saving time, the time is changed to daylight saving time here.

Opening Hours

The National Monument is accessible all year round and the Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Entrance fees

Access to the National Monument by car is generally free. You can only enter the canyon with a four-wheel drive vehicle after purchasing a permit and accompanied by an authorized Navajo guide. The permit costs $ 15 per hour for one car and $ 5 per hour for each additional car (with a maximum of 5 cars per guide). A Navajo guide is also required for hikes (checklist for hiking vacations in the USA) in the canyon. The permit for this costs $ 15 per hour for up to 15 people. Without the company of an Indian guide and free of charge, only the White House Ruins Trail can be hiked.

Climate and Weather

The summers are not too hot with temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius, but there are often thermal thunderstorms, the winters are cold and snowy. The main travel season is May when the canyons turn green and there is plenty of water. Otherwise, the time from spring to autumn is considered a suitable travel time.


The plateau lies in the so-called nut pine / juniper zone. Bushes populate the Fesl areas. In the greater heights of the transition zone, yellow pines and Gambeleichen determine the picture.
The canyon floor has been used for agriculture for a long time and therefore offers little original vegetation. Poplars and olive willows were planted to protect against flooding.


There are many mule deer and Audubon rabbits, but they are quite shy. The most common reptile is the desert toad lizard. The wren, the turkey and the violet tern are common birds, as well as sparrows, pigeons and starlings.

Overnight stay

At the entrance to the monument, 3 miles southeast of AZ 191, is the year-round Thunderbird Lodge (website). Early reservations are recommended, especially in the high season. The lodge offers jeep tours of the park, both full-day and half-day tours at 9am and 2pm. There is also a cafeteria that provides all meals. Within the park you can find campsites free of charge, especially around the visitor center, on a first-come, first-served basis.


The first port of call should be the visitor center. Then we recommend a drive on North Rim Drive (preferably in the morning) and South Rim Drive (in the afternoon) with a stop at the respective viewpoints. The time required is about 4 hours. The only hiking option without an Indian guide is the White House Trail (approx. 2 – 3 hours). We recommend half or full day jeep tours with an Indian guide, which can be booked at the Thunderbird Lodge. Attention: In dry weather the tours are very “dusty”. Choose your clothing accordingly and protect your camera, etc. (at least in a plastic bag).

Arizona Renaissance Festival