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. More trail information is listed below.
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.
Near Roosevelt, Arizona
HC02 Box 4602
Roosevelt, AZ 85545
CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING:
Elevation: Visitor Center: 2,805 feet; Lower Ruin: 3,155 feet; Upper Ruin: 3,400 feet.
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. Average annual precipitation: 15 inches. Average days of sunshine: over 300. Average humidity during dry seasons: 5-15%. Average humidity during rainy seasons: 30-50% (except when actually raining!)
The sun can be intense. Water, hats, and sunscreen are advised. Sturdy shoes or hiking boots are recommended for the Upper Ruin Trail. Sneakers or other good walking shoes are recommended for the Lower Ruin Trail.
Located on State Highway 88, immediately south of Roosevelt Lake.
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.
From Scottsdale, take State Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) north to State Highway 188 (80 miles); turn right (southeast) on 188 and drive 35 miles to State Highway 88 (at Roosevelt Dam); then drive four miles east on 88 to Tonto National Monument.
A popular alternate route from Phoenix travels the Apache Trail. From Phoenix, take State Highway 60 (Superstition Freeway) east to Apache Junction; take exit marked "Apache Trail; Salt River Lakes; State Highway 88"; follow Apache Trail through Apache Junction to Tortilla Flat, about 18 miles; about 4 miles northeast of Tortilla Flat, the road becomes graded dirt for the next 24 miles to Roosevelt Dam. After passing the dam, stay on 88 for 4 more miles east to Tonto National Monument. This route provides some of the most spectacular scenery in Arizona, but is narrow, curved, and steep in places. It is not advisable during wet weather.
From Tucson, take State Highway 77 north to Globe (100 miles); at intersection of 77 and State Highway 60, follow 60 through Globe to State Highway 88; turn right (northwest) on 88 and drive 30 miles to Tonto National Monument.
From Flagstaff, take Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road) to State Highway 87 (55 miles); turn right (south) on 87 and drive 72 miles to State Highway 188 (17 miles south of Payson); turn left on 188 (southeast) and drive 35 miles to State Highway 88 (at Roosevelt Dam); then drive four miles east on 88 to Tonto National Monument.
FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES:
One visitor center with exhibits and 12-minute orientation slide program; sales outlet for interpretive literature; hands-on display; restrooms, vending machines for snacks and soft drinks, public telephone. Parking lot has limited turning radius; vehicles longer than 30 feet and towing another vehicle experience difficulty negotiating the turn. Large vehicle parking is available .5 mile below the visitor center at the picnic area.
Picnic area located .5 mile below visitor center (.5 mile inside park entrance); eight tables, four covered with shade ramadas; one handicapped accessible. Currently pit toilet facility, not accessible; construction begins in 1997 for fully accessible restroom.
Two trails: Lower Ruin (paved, .5 miles, ascends 350 feet, self-guided with booklet and interpretive signs); Upper Ruin (dirt/rock, 1.5 miles, ascends 600 feet, ranger-guided only). One mile park road from entrance to visitor center. Road is narrow with one steep, hairpin curve immediately below the visitor center.
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.
Scheduled walks and talks during busy visitor season, January through April.
Junior Ranger Program for children; complete activity booklet and earn badge and certificate.
Excellent opportunity for educational groups studying Southwestern archeology to visit original dwellings; call in advance for special talks and tours, and for more information.
Lodging and camping facilities:
None at the monument.
Adjacent Tonto National Forest has several developed campgrounds within ten miles.
Lodging available in nearby Roosevelt (8 miles), Tonto Basin (16 miles), Globe/Miami (30 miles), and Payson (55 miles).
Snack vending machines only at the monument.
Several convenience stores located within 15 miles of park, some with gasoline. Grocery stores, vehicle mechanics, and other amenities in Globe/Miami, Tonto Basin, and Payson.
Other Concessions/NPS-Managed Visitor Facilities and Opportunities:
Lower level visitor center (museum exhibits, sales area, ranger assistance, rest rooms, orientation program on video by request).
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE:
Hike Lower Ruin Trail and visit Lower Ruin; view orientation slide program and exhibits; participate in interpretive activities when scheduled.
Reservations required for Upper Ruin tour; see "Programs/ Activities" section for details. Entrance fee applies; no extra charge for tour.
BASIC VISIT/TIME RECOMMENDATIONS:
Driving time from Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tucson: 2.5 to 3 hours; from Flagstaff: 3 to 3.5 hours.
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.
SPECIAL EVENTS, PROGRAMS:
"Open House" annually on one weekend in March (participation in Arizona Archeology Month) and first weekend in November. Visitors may hike to Upper Ruin on their own, with park staff and volunteers providing assistance and interpretive programs.
ADJACENT VISITOR ATTRACTIONS:
Tonto National Forest surrounds the monument and offers trails, back roads, camping, boating and fishing on Roosevelt Lake, hunting, and a visitor center with exhibits. Call (520) 467-3200 for more information.
Besh-Ba-Gowah is a superbly reconstructed prehistoric Salado dwelling managed by the City of Globe. For information on how to visit, call (520) 425-0320.