Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel.
Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel.

Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel

Field review by the editors.

Apache Junction, Arizona

The Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel is part of the Superstition Mountain Museum, which seems like an unlikely marriage of Vegas kitsch and regional desert history. Though Elvis shrines are often arbitrarily concocted for tourism, in this case the iconic performer has a legitimate connection to church -- both appeared the 1969 movie Charro!

The church originally stood at the Apacheland Movie Ranch, a once popular film location and tourist attraction. Apacheland's mostly wooden complex of structures suffered through two devastating fires, in 1969 and again in 2004. Only the barn and the Elvis Memorial Chapel survived, and the ranch closed. Both buildings were disassembled, moved, and reconstructed on the property of the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Cardboard Elvis and concrete Patsy Montana hand print slab.
Cardboard Elvis and concrete Patsy Montana hand print slab.

Elvis Presley is eternally pose-ready.
Elvis Presley is eternally pose-ready.

Inside the chapel, rows of wooden bench pews face an altar (lavishly decorated during our visit for Dia de los Muertos "Day of the Dead" Mexican crafts weekend). The walls contain western film memorabilia -- posters from movies shot at Apacheland. A life-size Elvis Presley figure stands ready for photos.

Under glass, there's a concrete slab salvaged from Apacheland -- discovered on a back trail in 2015 and donated to the museum. The slab contains the hand prints and signature of Patsy Montana (1908-1996), the world's first female country singer with a number one hit, 1935's "I Want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." A sign advises: "Push the button to hear her sing her big song!"

At one point the museum displayed a vial of dirt taken from the ground next to the chapel where Elvis was filmed, wounded and bleeding, in Charro! But current staff couldn't find it, or recall that it had ever been there.

Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel

Superstition Mountain Museum

Address:
4087 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ
Directions:
On the south side of Hwy 88, 3.5 miles northeast of Apache Junction.
Hours:
Daily 9 am - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
480-983-4888
Admission:
Museum admission.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Superstition Mountain MuseumSuperstition Mountain Museum, Apache Junction, AZ - < 1 mi.
Goldfield Ghost TownGoldfield Ghost Town, Goldfield, AZ - < 1 mi.
Lost Dutchman MonumentLost Dutchman Monument, Apache Junction, AZ - 4 mi.
In the region:
Rattlesnake Slide, Fort McDowell, AZ - 22 mi.

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