Tonto National Monument
Cliff Dwellings - Salado Culture 1150 -1450 AD
Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture between 1150 and 1450 AD. 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.
Rates & Fees
Entrance Fee: $3.00 per person
Seasons / Hours
Open every day of the year, except December 25, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Lower Ruin Trail closes to uphill travel at 4:00 pm. Reservations are required for Upper Cliff Dwelling tours.
Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
One Visitor Center with exhibits and a 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 1/2 mile below Visitor Center at picnic area.
Programs & Events
- 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.
- "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.
Snack vending machines only at the monument. Several convenience stores located within 15 miles of the park, some with gasoline. Grocery stores, vehicle mechanics, and other amenities in Globe/Miami, Tonto Basin, and Payso.
Lower level visitor center (museum exhibits, sales area, ranger assistance, rest rooms, orientation program on video by request).
Located on State Highway 88, immediately south of Roosevelt Lake.
Elevation: Visitor Center: 2,805 feet; Lower Ruin: 3,155 feet; Upper Ruin: 3,400 feet.
Mild winters: with 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.
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.
Things To Do
Picnic area located 1/2 mile below Visitor Center (1/2 mile inside park entrance); 8 tables, 4 covered with shade ramadas; one handicapped accessible. Currently, the pit toilet facility is not accessible; construction begins in 1997 for fully accessible restroom.
Trails & Roads
Two trails: Lower Ruin (paved, 1/2 mile, 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.
Camping & Lodging
There is no camping or lodging at the Monument. Adjacent Tonto National Forest has several developed campgrounds within 10 miles. Lodging available in nearby Roosevelt (8 miles), Globe/Miami (30 miles), and Payson (55 miles). Click for - Rates, availability and reservations online.
Precautions, Rules, Regulations
It is the visitor's responsibility to know and obey park rules. Regulations are designed for visitors' protection and to protect natural resources.
HC02 Box 4602
Roosevelt, AZ 85545
Cities & Towns
Roosevelt, Arizona: 8 miles north.
Payson Arizona: 55 miles north.
Globe, Arizona: 35 miles east.
Scottsdale, Arizona: 75 miles west.
Phoenix, Arizona: 80 miles west.
Tucson, Arizona: 139 miles south.
Apache Jct., Arizona: 46 miles southwest.
Parks & Monuments
Lost Dutchman State Park: 44 miles southwest.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park: 63 miles north.
Casa Grande Ruin National Monument: 90 miles northeast.
Saguaro National Park: 151 miles south.
Chiricahua National Monument: 209 miles southeast.
Recreation & Wilderness Areas
Tonto National Forest: Surrounds the Monument.
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area: 52 miles south.
Mt. Lemon Recreation Area: 62 miles south.
Mingus Mountain Recreation Area: 20 miles northeast.
Historic & Points of Interest
Coronado National Memorial (Sierra Vista)
Tumacacori National Historical Park (Nogales)
McFarland State Historic Park (Florence)
Pinal County Historical Museum (Florence)
Besh-Ba-Gowah Archeological Park (Globe)
Pueblo Grande Museum (Phoenix)
Heard Museum (Phoenix)
Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum (Phoenix)
Arizona State Museum of Geology (Tempe)
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