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Tonto National Monument - Lower Dwellings, AZ

Guide 61 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
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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
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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 61 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  5:15am - 7:38pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

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 four 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 wildflower 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 lower cliff dwellings trail 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. This is a highly recommended destination if you have out of state visitors with varied physical capabilities or interests. 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.

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.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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