Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native wildlife and plants. The Salado were fine craftsmen, producing some of the most exquisite polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest. Many of these objects are on display in the Visitor Center museum.
The monument is located in the Upper Sonoran ecosystem, known primarily for its characteristic saguaro cactus. Other common plants include: cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, and barrel cactus (blooming April through June); yucca, sotol, and agave; creosote bush and ocotillo; palo verde and mesquite trees; an amazing variety of colorful wild flowers (February through March); and a lush riparian area which supports large Arizona black walnut, sycamore, and hackberry trees.
Animals native to Tonto National Monument include: whitetail and mule deer; mountain lion and bobcat; javelina, porcupine, coyote, and ringtail; jackrabbit and desert cottontail; several squirrel, chipmunk, and bat species; all four species of North American skunk; three rattlesnake species; Arizona coral snake; over a dozen other snake species; Gila monster and over a dozen other lizard species; four toad and frog species; and over 100 bird species.
A paved trail to the Lower Ruin is self-guided (one mile round trip). Guided tours to the Upper Ruin are available November through April (three miles round trip) and require reservations
Tonto National Monument was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, one of the first National Monuments to be proclaimed under the new Antiquities Act of 1906. Since then, these pristine ruins have been both protected and open to the public to enjoy. Tonto National Monument presents a unique opportunity to walk through the original rooms which once housed a thriving community.
Basic Information on Tonto National Monument
Operating Hours, Seasons
Daily, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. except Christmas day. Lower Ruin Trail closes to uphill travel at 4:00 p.m.
How to Get to Tonto National Monument
Nearest Airport to Tonto National Monument- Nearest Service is in Phoenix
How to Drive to Tonto National Monument - Driving time from Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tucson: 2.5 to 3 hours; from Flagstaff: 3 to 3.5 hours.
From Phoenix, take State Highway 60 (Superstition Freeway)
east to Globe/Miami (75 miles); turn left (northwest) on State Highway
88; drive 30 miles to Tonto National Monument entrance.
Weather & Climate
Mild winters: lows in the 30s, highs in the 60s; hot summers, lows in the 70s, highs in the 110s. Rainy seasons January/ February and July through September.
The Visitor Center is accessible to wheelchairs.
Camping at Tonto National Monument
None in monument, some located in adjacent Tonto National Monument
Activities and More Information
Hike Lower Ruin Trail and visit Lower Ruin; view orientation slide program and exhibits; participate in interpretive activities when scheduled.
Scheduled walks and talks during busy visitor season, January through April. A paved trail to the Lower Ruin is self-guided (one mile round trip).
Guided tours to Upper Ruin, November through April; three to four hours, three miles round trip; reservations required. Two to three tours given weekly, depending on staffing. Tours limited to 15 people and often fill quickly; call for reservations early.
Excellent opportunity for educational groups studying Southwestern archeology to visit original dwellings; call in advance for special talks and tours, and for more information.
Time to view orientation program and exhibits and hike to Lower Ruin: 1 to 2 hours. Time to participate in Upper Ruin tour: 3 to 4 hours. (Driving time from Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tucson: 2.5 to 3 hours; from Flagstaff: 3 to 3.5 hours.)
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