National Parks Close to Scottsdale: The Perfect Way to Spend a Summer Day

National Parks Close to Scottsdale: The Perfect Way to Spend a Summer Day

  • 05/13/19
If you’re buying a home for sale in DC Ranch, you most likely already know that this community is close to several local amenities, including fabulous parks and recreation areas that are perfect for picnics, play time and more – but we’re also close to a handful of national parks that are truly hidden gems. Even better, our national parks all participate in the Junior Ranger program, which provides an opportunity for kids to participate in fun, educational activities while earning Junior ranger badges.

National Parks and Recreation Areas Near DC Ranch

The most popular national parks in our area are only a short drive from DC Ranch, including Tonto National Monument, Casa Grande Ruins and Agua Fria National Monument.

Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument, tucked away near Roosevelt Lake, is a beautiful park containing upper and lower cliff dwellings used by the Sonoran Desert’s native inhabitants between 1250 and 1450 CE. The dwellings themselves are open to the public, but only the lower dwelling is open for hiking year-round. The upper cliff dwellings are only open during cooler months, and you must take a guided hike with a park ranger to visit them.

Once you reach the lower cliff dwellings, you’re allowed to explore at your leisure – just don’t touch the walls, which were originally built by native peoples to house their vibrant, unique society. You’ll have a spectacular view of Roosevelt Lake, which wasn’t there when the original natives inhabited the area (it’s man-made). You can head back down and explore the museum and refill your water bottle when you’re finished.

Casa Grande Ruins

The spectacular Casa Grande Ruins, a structure built by ancient Sonoran peoples, are located in Coolidge. It’s just a short drive from DC Ranch, and when you’re there, you’ll see the Sivan Vah’Ki – the massive Great House these ancient people built around 1350 CE. As one of the largest prehistoric structures still surviving in North America today, it features the remains of an entire village center where people played, worked, farmed and survived in the harsh desert landscape.

Because the people who inhabited Casa Grande left no written records, the earliest history available on the site comes from journal entries written by Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, who visited them in 1694. Later accounts by Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza from 1775 and Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny in 1846 tell a more detailed story, and ancient artifacts fill in the gaps in the Casa Grande museum.

Agua Fria National Monument

The Agua Fria National Monument in Yavapai County is a little farther than Tonto National Monument and Casa Grande Ruins, but it’s well worth the trip. While it is a national monument, it’s managed by the Bureau of Land Management – and while they don’t participate in the Junior Ranger program, they do have children’s activities and offer the opportunity to earn a badge and certificate.

The monument itself encompasses two mesas and the canyon of the Agua Fria River, and elevations range between 2,150 feet above sea level and 4,600 feet above sea level. It’s one of the most significant spots for prehistoric culture in the American Southwest because of the rich record of human history it contains, and when you visit, you can hike to amazing petroglyphs that ancient peoples used to tell their stories.

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