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Filed under: Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, The Road Less Traveled

Tortilla Flat, AZ, Population 6.

January 23, 2011 by · 4 Comments 


If you happen to find yourself around Apache Junction, Arizona, with time on your hands and a desire to check out the ‘scenery’, you may just want to take a drive over to Tortilla Flat.  Your drive through the Tonto National Forest will take you on a twisty, erratic (but nicely paved) road that winds through miles of rugged desert.Canyon Lake, Arizona  With interesting rock formations, lots of saguaro and barrel cactus, and a forest worth of palo verde trees, the drive is a must for those new to the Arizona desert environment.  Along the way, you will come to beautiful Canyon Lake (pic on left), which is a popular destination for water sports during the summer.  Continue on, and you will soon find yourself in the town of Tortilla Flat.  Population 6. 
Tortilla Flat is an old mining town, and is a popular tourist destination.  It is known for a few unique attractions, our favorite being the Prickly Pear Ice Cream.  Prickly Pear is a type of cactus, which they have in abundance in Arizona. 

kids on front of old mining shaft

a few of my traveling buddies :)

 We went to Tortilla Flat party because it is the touristy thing to do, but also because we wanted to check out the PP ice cream.  It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to have ice cream made from cactus.  I envisioned it being a pale green color, and without much flavor.  The ice cream ended up being a beautiful pink color, and tasted like a cross between strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries.  The ice cream was made from the fruit of the prickly pear!  Not all of my kids appreciated the flavor, but a couple of the kids and I enjoyed it.
Another attraction at Tortilla Flat is the fact that the saloon (and restaurant) is wallpapered with dollar bills. 

money covered walls of restaurant

money covered walls of restaurant

 Approximately half a million dollar bills.  And if you would like to contribute to the wallpaper fund, just make sure you have a one dollar bill with you when you visit.  Everyone signs their name or decorates the bill in some way (usually with a sharpie marker) before having it stapled to the wall.  The saloon burnt down once in the 80s, fully wallpapered mind you, and now, the new (but old looking) saloon being repapered by generous patrons.
Tortilla Flat has a nice little souvenir shop, some little mining props that make for great tourist photo shoots, and is a great place to stop for lunch or ice cream on your way through.  Great tourist stop on your scenic drive through the Tonto National Forest!


4 Responses to “Tortilla Flat, AZ, Population 6.”
  1. Brenda says:

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. We have definate plans to go to Apache Junction, AZ. and will for sure be checking out Tortilla Flatt, AZ. You have given us another destination and we love trying foods that are unique to local culture, also my hubbie is an icecream nut. Thanks for the info.

  2. Patti says:

    Hi Dana, We’re heading over Tonto National Forest Way fairly soon. This looks like a worthy stop! Thanks for the post…and the ice cream tip. I might not have tried it had I not read this.
    Happy Tales, Patti

  3. Bud Russman says:

    Great article! Always love the Ice cream in Tortilla Flat. Tortilla Flat is also known to the locals for some of the best chili around, try it before the ice cream… Don’t end your trip at Tortilla Flat keep going and you will relish some of the best desert scenes you will ever encounter. The Apache Trail is awesome! Caution at Fish Creek Hill – its steep and one lane. The Apache trail will take you to Roosevelt Dam -
    a sight in itself.

    Enjoy and happy RVing,

    Bud Russman

  4. Andrea says:

    Hey guys-If your up near Tortilla Flat be sure to stop by Lakeside Restaurant & Cantina. On the same road (Hwy 88) but before you get to Tortilla Flat on the left. Beautiful views of the lake, awsome fish “fry”-day and they have some yummy soft serve ice cream too ;)

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