Tortilla Flat is, literally, a “wide spot in the road”, yet it’s been on every AZ map I’ve seen for 60 years. Originally it was a “change station”.  Mules pulling construction materials up the road to build Roosevelt dam were switched for a fresh team. Now it’s a general store and a saloon, i.e., a bar and restaurant with emphasis on the “bar” part. The food is actually pretty good.

Tortilla Flats MapThat road eventually became AZ88. That lake and dam provided the water and power that allowed central Arizona to start to develop into a modern community. But even today, just a couple miles east of Tortilla Flat, AZ88 becomes a gravel road that’s very curvy and hangs on the sides of the hills that form the lower Salt River canyon. It’s passable by an auto even in bad weather, but it’s definitely a backcountry environment.

The graphic here came from a “Travel Arizona” article in the Arizona Republic Sunday, December 22, 2013.  There’s not much along AZ88 except Tortilla Flat, the lakes and the dam, which is probably the reason Tortilla Flat is famous. There’s not much else on this historic, curvy, old-fashion road. Click the graphic for an enlarged version. Use you back-button to come back here.

The Tortilla Flat saloon burned down a few times over the century-plus it’s been there, twice I believe. The wood the place is built of makes it seem like a tinder-box even now.

And what a shame if it burned again. The walls are covered with signed and dated dollar bills … a LOT of them … some of the walls go up 20 feet and every inch is covered.

The bar has real saddles on posts for bar stools: comfortable but a bit strange to sit on.

Is it worth a trip just to see Tortilla Flat? I would say No! But it’s definitely worth a stop if you are making a trip to one of the lakes below Roosevelt dam, or up AZ88.

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