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Tonto National Monument


As early as 5000 B.C., the rich flood plain of the Tonto Basin in Arizona attracted settlers. The first were the Hohokam. By 1150, however, the basin inhabitants had developed pottery styles, constructions methods, and other traits different from the traditional Hohokam ways, indicating that a new culture had emerged -- the Salado. Tonto National Monument is the only National Park site dedicated to these people.

Tonto National Monument
©National Park Service
The hidden cliff dwellings of the Salado Indians can be found at
Tonto National Monument.

The Salado, like the Hohokam, were farmers, but they are distinguished by their beautiful pottery and woven cloth, examples of which are on display at the site's visitor center. The monument includes two cliff dwellings built by the Salado more than 600 years ago, which visitors can walk through. The Salado built their pueblos into the hillside where wind and water had carved out recesses. The pueblos contain several connected rooms that were used for sleeping, storage, cooking, and protection.

The Lower Ruin had perhaps 16 ground floor rooms, some of which had a second story. The Indians used the open spaces of the terraces and rooftops for work and play. A steep trail leads to the Upper Ruin on a nearby ledge, a much larger dwelling with 32 rooms on the ground floor. When peering into these rooms, visitors can see hand prints on the walls and smoke stains on the ceilings, powerful reminders that these ruins were once full of life.

Tonto National Monument Service Information

Address: One mile off Ariz. Hwy 88, Roosevelt, AZ
Phone: 928/467-2241
Hours of Operation: Open daily
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission: $3

Learn about these other national monuments:

­Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Colorado National Monument

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

Devils Postpile National Monument

George Washington Carver National Monument

Ocmulgee National Monument

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Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

Dinosaur National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Oregon Caves National Monument

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Booker T. Washington National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument

Grand Portage National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Tonto National Monument

Buck Island Reef National Monument

El Malpais National Monument

Hohokam Pima National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument

Cape Krusenstern National Monument

El Morro National Monument

Homestead National Monument

Pinnacles National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

Pipe Spring National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Fort Frederica National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument

Pipestone National Monument


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Fort Matanzas National Monument

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Poverty Point National Monument


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Fort Stanwix National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument


Chiricahua National Monument

Fossil Butte National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Russell Cave National Monument


To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.