Prickly Pear Gelato in Tortilla Flat

No, it doesn’t refer to a musical piece. It’s gelato, not toccata…

Population: 6 (six). No joke – that’s official.

A place where you can order a refreshing prickly pear gelato or drink a glass of sarsaparilla to quench the thirst from travelling through the unrelenting desert.
A place on the Apache trail through Arizona, close to Route 88.

tortillaflatsstore and po

Welcome to Tortilla Flat in Maricopa County, a lonely dot on the map where the six inhabitants all live and work to keep the place alive for tourists keen to sample an echo of the past.
The old one room schoolhouse (see below) survived a disastrous fire which swept through the little town in 1982. This is the sort of little schoolhouse you imagine from Little House on the Prairie or Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman:


The saloon has bar stools made from saddles, so take care not to get too comfortable to know when to leave!

Tortilla Flat took its name from a butte (not butt) shaped like a tortilla. I’ve yet to see a tortilla shaped like either a butte (a small flat-topped hill or what we would usually refer to as a koppie) or butt, or vice versa but an elastic imagination must have played a role.

Hard to see how a butte can resemble a tortilla…

The community, which is the smallest official town in Arizona with a post office and zip code, was established as a camping ground for mining prospectors seeking gold in the nearby Superstition Mountains. You can take a hike into these mountains from the village. The name evokes an aura of dark mystery and surreality.


Superstition Mountains

Thereafter it was a freight camp and base for workers during the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, begun in 1905 and completed in 1911.

Roosevelt Dam soon after completion in 1911

If you’re feeling energetic, venture to the nearby 6 mile (9.7 km) long Massacre Grounds Hiking Trail.  There is a waterfall on the trail and dogs are allowed if on a leash. It is a moderately strenuous hike but if you’re lucky enough to find yourself there after good rains, you’ll find nice pools below the waterfall.  According to at least one person who undertook this hike with his dog, you should take care as he could well pick up some cactus thorns in his paws, as his did.

A group of miners from the Peralta family were taking gold from the area in 1848 when a band of Apaches ambushed and murdered them, hence the name.  The miners were part of a wealthy Mexican family attempting to recover as much gold as they could before the area became US territory.

There is also a 36.6 mile (59 km ) trail in the area mainly used for mountain biking, called the Four Peaks trail.  This is also very popular among 4×4 enthusiasts wanting a challenging and rewarding adventure.


Published by: envirozentinel63

Diagnosed with asperger syndrome. Keen runner and writer who wants to share the ups and downs of all my many experiences and maybe reach out to someone who needs encouragement.

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