A Trip to the Pony Express

By Carl

December 2017. Fall and winter. Some of the best months of the year in Arizona, where the desert nights are cold but the days are moderate and warm. This year, my daughter and granddaughter from Alabama spent a week with us at Christmastime. It was the first time they had visited Arizona and had the opportunity to see some of the sites. It was a week of fun that went by all too quickly…

The first day that we went out exploring, we took time right in our own neck of the woods to play, climb, and see some of the various flora in the area. My daughter, a professional artist, loves to explore and is expanding her interests from painting and drawing to building her photography skills. Although she took many more pictures than me, here are a few of the areas right in the area around home.

The next exploring on the agenda was to take our visitors out to Tortilla Flat–the last surviving stop on the Pony Express Apache route. Just a small place–population 6 when the route was active. Very little to see there except the important things–history that has been preserved. Of course, girls being girls, they got themselves into trouble the moment that they arrived…lol. All in good fun, though–and fortunately, they didn’t get in as much trouble as the last guy.

DSCN0070One of the remaining buildings is the little schoolhouse. By little, I mean that it is barely big enough to qualify under today’s building code for use as a bedroom! This is where, in 1932, 14 students were taught. A tight fit, considering that children of all ages were taught here together.

We ate at Tortilla Flat’s restaurant. Yes, restaurant, singular–there is only one. There is a tradition there of signing your name on a dollar bill and putting it on the wall. Although there are a few stories of how the tradition came about, the 1950-1970 owners were there when the current practice began. So, if you ever visit Tortilla Flat, put your bill on the wall and make yourself famous!

There are a few other things to see in this quaint little plot of history. There used to be a mine (as there were so many places in the Arizona mountains), there is a mercantile store (i.e. gift shop), a sweet shop with various delicious products made from prickly pear cactus, some small exhibits, and a great view!

After our visit to Tortilla Flat, we started on the long, winding road toward home. Along the way, my daughter wanted to stop and shoot some of the scenery around us, including Cactus Lake (which has a paddle-wheel sightseeing boat tour), presented in the slideshow below:

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All-in-all, it was a fun day out and about! If you are in the Phoenix area–especially the east valley–Tortilla Flat is a nice trip for a few hours of enjoying history and scenery!


The route 88/Apache trail will be getting new pavement this winter. Anyone interested in the construction can visit azdot.gov/SR88 During that time, passage for RVs, including those pulled as trailers, is greatly constrained–larger RVs may not be able to make the passage.

Here are some pieces of information to help you plan your trip!

Website:   http://www.tortillaflataz.com/ 

Location:  1 Main Street, Tortilla Flat, AZ 85190
Office Phone: 480-984-1776

Lat/Long:  33°31′35″N 111°23′23″W

June 1st – September 30th
Monday – Friday
9am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday
9am – 7pm

October 1st – May 31st
Monday – Friday
9am – 6pm
Saturday & Sunday
9am – 7pm


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