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Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings, AZ

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Guide 61 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Roosevelt Salt
3.1 of 5 by 18
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,830 feet
Elevation Gain 362 feet
Accumulated Gain 431 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5
Kokopelli Seeds 3.06
Interest Ruins
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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5  2018-03-18 Tortoise_Hiker
11  2016-11-05 AZWanderingBear
1  2016-03-10 LindaAnn
3  2015-12-26 Tough_Boots
30  2014-03-28
Apache Trail Circle Route
26  2014-03-23
Tonto Monument from the Cheap Seats
25  2013-07-24 kingsnake
10  2013-06-18 SkyIslander18
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:21pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Roosevelt attractions
by Randal_Schulhauser

The Tonto National Monument is an Arizona icon appearing in just about every travel brochure or guidebook on the American South West. With March break in full swing and our house full of "city" visitors from Canada, a combination of Arizona scenery, history, culture, and non-strenuous exercise is in order. A trip to the lower cliff dwellings will score high on all 4 criteria.

Start your hike at the visitor's center. There's an interpretive film playing continuously in the amphitheater that provides background history about the Salado people. Artifacts are also prominently displayed. I was impressed by the impromptu collection of wild flower photos and identification hints. Learned the names of a couple of flowers I'd previously been unable to identify! The ranger on duty proved to be an encyclopedia of knowledge...

The trail to the lower cliff dwellings is paved and has park benches strategically located about every 500 feet. A series of switchbacks reduces the overall grade, but the path still has to climb 350 feet in about half a mile. Take a break at one of the park benches and enjoy the view!. Informative plaques and plant markers are generously located along the route. These certainly enhance the "educational" experience.

The Lower Cliff Dwellings come into prominent view at the next-to-last switchback. This is a primo photo spot! Once at the cliff dwellings, take your time exploring the 8 areas/rooms identified on the floor plan. You will discover that the extreme west side of the ruin was the original entry to the cliff dwelling. The "V-shaped" notch in the wall was the only way to enter the cliff dwelling. A removable ladder provided access. Also note the wooden beams supporting the saguaro-ribbed roof. The remains of a mano and metate (grinding stone and basin) are located in one of the more complete rooms.

Many more factoids are shared in the NPS brochure available at the visitor's center.

This easy trail is an excellent introduction to the archeological wonders of the American southwest, particularly for kids. If you have out of state visitors with varied physical capabilities or interests, this is a highly recommended destination. Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2005-03-18 Randal_Schulhauser
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Tonto NM NPS Details
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.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 15 deeper Triplog Reviews
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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On a 4-day trip to the Lake Roosevelt / Sierra Ancha area. Came in the long way to enjoy lunch at Guayo del Rey in Miami.

Never one to miss a chance to visit ruins, we dropped by the Tonto Monument and took the short hike up to the lower dwelling. Was fun talking to the ranger there and imagining life 600 years ago here.

Headed on over to the Roosevelt Dam overlook. While admiring the surroundings up rolled a motorcycle gang. Thought for a moment it was the Sons of Anarchy, but turned out to be the Grandpas of Anarchy, a much nicer group. Then it was off to Butcher Hook for some libations before finding a convenient campsite for the night.
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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Stopped to see Tonto National Monument on the way to Tonto Basin. Beautiful, cool, cloudy day. An excited group of Safford school kids were heading out as we headed in. Cool place to visit as always. Did a short hike on the Vineyard/AZT before heading north to show Shauna my grandparent's old place in Punkin Center, and then up into the Sierra Ancha to camp out.
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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After a nice trip out to the Arboretum, Addie & Myself hit up the monument before driving back home to Safford. We first stopped at the Roosevelt Bridge & Dam overlooks for the views before traveling back to the cliff dwellings. We then had a hot, fun, short hike up to the lower dwellings where we poked around a bit and had a good conversation with the ranger at the site.
Dinner & a little gambling at Apache Gold casino was had on the trip back home to end this most enjoyable trip!
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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Apache Trail Circle Route
Apache Trail with Drew & Janice - March 2014
FitBit totals = 8.39 miles, 590 AEG (59 floors)

Apache Trail circle route map :next: ... 0Route.pdf
Apache Trail official website :next:

Superstition Mountain Museum :next:

Fish Creek Hill :next:

Fish Creek Upper Bridge :next:

Fish Creek Lower Canyon :next:

Tonto National Monument Cliff Dwellings :next:

My cousin Drew and his wife Janice came to visit Arizona from their home in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. They spent the first part of the week at the Orchards Inn (check out :next: ) before staying a few nights at our Ahwatukee home.

To give them a good "taste" of outdoor Arizona, Lynn and I had to take them on the Apache Trail Circle Route. Cudos to the rattlesnake that crossed our path on cue! Now that’s a “true” Arizona experience.

Trip had plenty of stops and starts for photo ops and exploring some side trails. Got home to sample a couple of choice wines and some New York Strips from the BBQ...

Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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Wanted to do something today my wife could handle, and this fit the bill. We took our time driving in, including stops to see the Roosevelt Dam and Roosevelt Dam Bridge. Then we took our time walking up the path. It is fairly steep, but being short is doable even for people not used to hiking. I actually got some really cute pictures of my wife in her jelly nougat ( ... 6_e6th.jpg ) colored hat, but she would kill me if I posted the pictures. :scared: I liked this better than Casa Grande, because I could at least inspect some of the rooms, which you could not do at Casa Grande. Also, the views are spectacular. The upper ruins are closed May-October, but I asked anyway, and the answer was no. Why? To avoid snake- and heat-caused casualties, as the trail is longer and higher. :roll: (Little did they suspect my superhero alter-ego as Hazman! : rambo : ) Afterwards, which stopped for lunch at Big Daddy's on the east end of Punkin Center. Shockingly good pizza. (To give you some idea of how much stuff they had on it, I could only eat two slices compared to my normal five 16" slices.) 8) Also, good AC, always a plus.
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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Last stop of my 3 day road trip.
After Tonto Natural Bridge, I continued on down 87 through Payson then onto 188 towards Tonto National Monument.
Passed through Pumpkin Center (I know :lol: ) and first stopped at Roosevelt Lake for a swim and photo session with the bridge & dam. Soon after I arrived at the Monument and hiked the out-n-back to the dwellings. Didn't stay long here as it was hot hot hot!
I then made my way to Globe, hung a left and after a nice drive through the San Carlos Rez I arrived back home at Safford ending a most excellent & much needed 3 day getaway !!!

3 Days
750 Miles Driven
680 Photos

1 Ostrich Ranch
2 "Ghost Towns"
3 State Parks
4 National Monuments

1 River Swim
1 Lake Swim

1 rewarding road trip :y:
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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From Campsite 20 I followed the trail to a nice bench facing east where you can watch the sunrise if you wake up it odark30 (I was a little late). Then down some "stairs". I walked out through reeds to the lake. Saw some areas in the reeds where mule deer must have bedded down. Either mule deer or some really large redneck beer drinkers. Touched the Roosevelt Lake Water and headed back up to wake my fellow campers #slackers
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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I had a unique opportunity so I took it. The Temple Chai Mens' Club was having a camping trip to Windy Hill campground for Lag B'Omer.

After my trip to the Upper Ruins, I went to the Lower Ruins. Very nice trail. Paved and lots of descriptive things and lots of places to stop and rest. This hike was actually more cardio than the Upper Ruins trail but that might be because I was pushing it at a faster rate. I passed numerous out of shape folks hiking up this trail.

Aftet the Upper Ruins, this place was a disappointment. I am glad that I did not make this trip just for these Ruins. Hard to get photos with all the tourons in the way.

Rushed back down and on to the Windy Hill campground to find sites for my Temple Group.
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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I had a unique opportunity so I took it. The Temple Chai Mens' Club was having a camping trip to Windy Hill campground for Lag B'Omer with our Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin. I called and got a spot on the hike to the Upper Campgrounds. Ranger Janet Lemon really grilled me to see if I could hike 3 1/2 miles and 750' AEG - glad I could still pass the interrogation.

Arrived at 0930 and checked in. Went to the Ramada and waited. Seven people in our group - a Dad, Mom and two teenage girls from Highland HS and a mid-70's couple from Liverpool. You could sort of tell they were European by their polished leather hiking boots. We waited for some no shows and departed at 1010. Led by Volunteer "Ranger" Wil Moore from Mesa. I asked and he is not related to Les Moore from Tombstone. Tomorrow is the last hike of the season. They close it down for summer. Wil stopped often to explain history and botany. We had a nice give and take and I learned a few things. I love a hike when I learn something. I can now tell a male jojoba plant from a female jojoba plant.

The cliff dwellings are well preserved. Great to have details pointed out and explained.

Wil told me that around St. Patrick's day the Monument has an "Open hike" day. For that weekend you can hike in anytime from park opening to closing without the guided tour. And he told me that there are special "photography" tours run by a professional photographer at various times during the season for a nominal $3 per person fee.

After the Upper hike I went to the lower Cliff Dwellings. The Lower Hike is actually more cardio - or maybe I pushed it harder.

After the Lower Ruins I went to Windy Hill campground to scout and secure a spot for our Mens' Group camping trip.
Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings
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I did this as a quick lunch break hike on a one day 514 mile round trip run to Winslow for work. The ruins themselves were closed due to an infestation of Africanized bees, but the trail up to them was open. The ruins are supposed to reopen on Friday after pest control does their work. The flowers along the trail were wonderful, especially the owl clover. Fun hike and a fun (albeit tiring) day!

Permit $$

Tonto National Monument
$5 per person, 15 and under free more info

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Phoenix: Take Hwy 60 (Superstition Freeway) east 75 miles to Globe/Miami. Turn left (northwest) onto Hwy 188, drive 30 miles to Tonto National Monument.

From Scottsdale: Take Hwy 87 (Beeline Highway) north 80 miles to Hwy 188. Turn right (southeast) at Hwy 188 intersection, drive 39 miles to Tonto National Monument.
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