Explore Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Tonto National Monument

Explore Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Tonto National Monument

  • 02/27/22
If you’re buying a home in Scottsdale, there’s a good chance that you already know we’re close to some of the most remarkable historical attractions in the country – and some of the oldest. Two such places, Casa Grande and the Tonto National Monument, are within a short drive from Scottsdale. Here’s what you need to know to plan your visits.

Explore Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Tonto National Monument

These two national treasures are both close to Scottsdale, and you can easily make a day trip out of a visit to each. Here are the details.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is in Coolidge, about 5 miles southeast of Scottsdale. (You can map it here.) Managed entirely by the National Park Service, Casa Grande Ruins was once a thriving community. Archaeologists have discovered that the ancestral Sonoran Desert people who built the complex had developed their own wide-scale irrigation system for farming and that they had extensive trade connections that lasted over a thousand years.
With early roots around the year 400 CE, Casa Grande (literally “great house) was likely vacant by the year 1450 CE. Though the people who once inhabited it left no written language behind, some details were found in the written journal entries of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino – known in Arizona as Father Kino (and mentioned in many other historical places, including Tumacacori and the 21 missions he founded in Southern Arizona – one of which is the San Xavier Mission in Tucson). Father Kino visited the ruins in 1694, making notes of the structure’s setup and more.
The remains of the great house still stand (and are home to local owls), as do many of the irrigation canals. You can visit the museum on-site to see pottery and a number of other artifacts recovered from Casa Grande, as well.
Pro Tip: The Junior Ranger Program is active at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
Related: 5 great adventures for thrill-seekers in Scottsdale

Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument is in Roosevelt, about 97 miles from Scottsdale. As the crow flies, it’s a lot closer – but you have to go around the Tonto National Forest to get there. (You can map it here.)
There are two ancient cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument – the Upper Cliff Dwelling and the Lower Cliff Dwelling. You must go with a Park Ranger to visit the Upper Cliff Dwelling, and tours only run during the cooler months of the year. However, you can visit the Lower Cliff Dwelling on your own; Rangers wait at the top to answer questions and point out features.
The area was populated from about 1250 to 1450 CE thanks to the Salado Phenomena – a blending of Native American cultures that created a thriving society. In the museum on-site, you can find spectacular specimens of woven cotton cloth, colorful pottery and a number of other artifacts that tell the story of the people who once lived here.
Though the Tonto Basin has been home to a variety of people over thousands of years, the Salado were the ones who built the cliff dwellings. The original roofs are still in place on some of the structures, and you can still see soot from the fireplaces in the alcove.
Pro Tip: The Junior Ranger Program is active at Tonto National Monument.

Follow Us on Instagram


Bringing together a team with the passion, dedication, and resources to help our clients reach their buying and selling goals. With you every step of the way.