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Tonto National Monument

The Tonto National Monument has two primary ruins. The Upper and Lower. The ruins were inhabited by a group of people known as the Salado. They were in the area for approx. 300 years. The Upper and Lower cliff dwellings were built in about 1300 AD and inhabited for about 100 to 150 years, before the entire basin area was deserted.

The Upper Ruin

The well-preserved Tonto Upper Ruin is 200-250+ feet higher than the lower ruin, which is on a nearby cliff face. It is the larger of the two ruins and has an estimated 40 rooms.

Reservations for the Upper Ruin tour are required, and there are only three or four tours scheduled each week. Aside from the Monument's entrance fee, there is no additional fee to take an Upper Ruin tour. Tours are not available in the summer, due to extreme temperatures. Tours leave at 10:00 sharp (8:00 in October and April), so be there on time, or early.

The trail travels along the canyon through brush, trees, and boulders. The river bottom is quite lovely and shady. About halfway to the cliff dwelling, the trail begins a series of switchbacks and steps up to the ruins. The ranger will go at a pretty easy pace, with frequent stops if some in the tour group need a slower pace. However, this is a strenuous hike, and not recommended for anyone who is not in reasonably good shape, especially if you are not used to hiking.

The Lower Ruin

This is open to the general public and has 19 or so rooms. A few matates and other odds and ends are found in one of the rooms. The lower ruin annex has an additional 11 rooms or so. The trail to the Lower Ruins is open to the general public and ascends 350 feet. It is approx. 1 mile roundtrip, but the switchbacks are pretty steep at times.

Other: When the water levels at nearby Roosevelt Lake dropped due to drought conditions. A small city and Armer Ruin were exposed. Hieroglyph Canyon is within a 1-2 hour drive.

Location: The Tonto National Monument is located in Central Arizona close to the Apache Trail and Roosevelt Lake. From Phoenix driving time is 2-2.5 hours. A paved road (88) approaches from Globe. Do not take the Apache Trail from Phoenix if you are trying to be on time for an Upper Ruin tour, or you will be late, since it takes a long time to navigate this twisty, hilly, and sometimes congested scenic route.

Climate: Keep in mind this is desert and summer temperatures can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


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