The hike is short but steep and could be tiring if you're not used to long walks or hikes, but you'll want to stop along the way anyways to soak up the beautiful views and take pictures. We were there on a perfect day and the hike wasn't too strenuous. At the top it's really interesting to see a Salado dwelling place and imagine what the rooms were...more
The trail to the Lower Cliff Dwelling is relatively short (.57 miles) but you gain over 350 feet in elevation in that distance. The trail is steep and can be tiring. It is paved. Along the way you will have several nice spots to take pictures of the dwellings, the Tonto Basin and the surrounding mountains. There are a few benches along the way if...more
The interpretive signs are nice and educational. They mentioned: Lichen (photo 1) are the green, grey and orange splotches you see on rocks. They are a plant which burrows its roots into the rock breaking it into smaller pieces which become soils for growing the food; the Foothill Palo Verde Plant (photo 2) is so called because of the green color...more
There were pueblos and pithouse villages built all throughout the Tonto Basin. There is one on the ridge across from the Tonto National Monument (I could not spot it). Many of the villages were detroyed by the building of the Roosevelt Dam. The dam formed Roosevelt Lake and many of the villages are now under water.more
Your first stop at the Tonto National Monument will be the Visitor's Center where you will pay the entrance fee of $3 (if you did not pay at the entrance station). You can also get a nice brochure telling you about the park and the Lower Cliff Dwelling here. They recommend you use a walking stick on the trail and insist you carry water. They have...more
People first established permanent settlements in the Tonto Basin between 100 and 600 AD. One of these settlements, now called Eagle Ridge, appears to be the first farming settlement established by these hunter gatherers. They left around 600. In 750, a group of settlers related to the Hohokam moved into the area and built villages with pithouses....more
Salado masonry was crude by 14th century pueblo standards. Walls were built of unshaped quartzite stones held in place by a mortar of clay and calcite soil. Unlike the finely crafted manonry of the Anasazi to the north, the Salado showed no special attempt at fine rock work. Instead plastering the walls with a thick layer of mud.Once the walls...more
The most accessible of the Cliff Dwelllings at Tonto, and the main attraction of the National Monument, is the Lower Cliff Dwellings. They may be reached by a one mile (round trip) hike from the Visitor Center. The walkway ascends 350 feet, but it is paved and well graded. Allow one hour for the trip. The trail closes at 4 p.m.These dwellings, in...more
The Visitor Center is the obvious place to begin your tour of Tonto National Monument. Here you will see exhibits on the culture and crafts of the Salado people and an audiovisual program. There are also restrooms and a small gift shop. The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible, and there is ample free parking. Hours: Open Daily 8 a.m. - 5 p.m....more
As we approached Tonto National Monument one of the first sights we saw was the Upper Cliff Dwelling, although it would be easy to miss. From a roadside rest area just south of the Monument entrance we were able to pull the Upper Cliff Dwelling in with our telephoto lens for this shot. This dwelling can only be visited on guided tours, which are...more
Hohokam and, later, Salado peoples lived in the Tonto basin along the Salt River farming irrigated fields of corn, beans and cotton. Irrigation canals - something the Hohokam were especially known for, see the nearby Casa Grande Ruins Nat Mon for more evidence on that score - were still visible until the Roosevelt Dam was constructed - started in...more
The mano (Spanish for hand) and metate (the larger stone surface) were stone grinding tools used by the Salado people. Primitive hand powered mills, such as this one on the floor of the Lower Cliff Dwelling, were commonplace in Southwestern agricultural societies. They were used to crush corn, beans, seeds and nuts, turning them into meal before cooking.
For those of you visiting Tonto National Monument, the Roosevelt Dam and Inspiration point are only a ten-minute drive away. If you enjoy viewing feats of engineering, the history of the Theodore Roosevelt era, or you just want to see the beautiful area from a different perspective, why not give it a try? At the time it was built it was the world's...more
There are few services at Tonto National Monument. A picnic area is near the visitor center, but no food can be purchased in the park. The tiny village of Roosevelt is 8 miles away. There is one restaurant there, but on the day of our visit it was closed, without explanation. The next closest facilities are at Globe, about 35 miles to the...more
Tonto National Mounment is not the best place to go for serious hiking. However, there are three short trails which offer absolutely awesome scenery. The trail leading to the upper ruins, 3 miles round trip, can only be taken in the cooler months with a guided tour. The trail to the lower ruins, 1 mile round trip, climbs 350 feet, but it is graded and paved making it a relatively easy walk. Views of the Tonto Basin and the Salt River Valley with Theodore Roosevelt Lake make this hike very rewarding even it there were no Indian ruins.
A shorter path, at lower elevations near the Visitor Center, is the "Cactus Trail." This is a place to take your time and study the living exhibits along the way. We found the cacti and other dessert plants extremely interesting, and I have profiled several of them in our general tips.
Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)Mesquite trees are rich with interdependent life, a protected place with shade, moisture and nutrients. The trees line dry washes, exist as individual trees or grow together to form small forests. The trees and the area around them are alive with many plants and animals. The tree canopy provides shelter for...more
Catclaw Acacia (Acacia greggii)Living at elevations from sea level to 5000 feet, catclaw acacia trees often form thorny thickets along washes and streams. Deciduous, this large shrub or small tree can reach heights of 20 feet and ages to 130 years old. The scaly gray to brown trunks may be as thick as one foot in diameter. The branch and trunk...more
Chain-Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida)Pronounced "choya," this tree-type cholla is also known as the jumping cactus. Ranging from south central Arizona into most of Sonora, Mexico, these cacti prefer the finer soils of the valleys and lower bajadas. With their many trunks and branches, these cacti can reach heights of eight feet or more. In good...more