Tonto National Monument

Climb to this preserved cliff dwelling overlooking Roosevelt Lake just outside of Phoenix.

Salado refers to the prehistoric people who lived along what is now the Salt River. Ancestors of Apache, Pima-Maricopa, Yavapai and other tribal communities lived in this area for hundreds of years. Two well-preserved cliff dwellings notched into coves date back 700 years and housed these Salado people. Early morning visitors have the best chance of spotting desert wildlife including javelina, deer, coyotes, rattlesnakes and bats. Any time of the day, the diversity of Sonoran Desert plants surprises visitors to this archaeological site.

Walk to the Ruins

A half-mile paved path leads up, up, up to the lower cliff dwelling, open year-round and visible from the visitor center. Along the trail, visitors stand shoulder to shoulder with giant saguaros. Once at the site, visitors can walk through the ruins while the on-site ranger shares the backstory on this ancient dwelling. November through April, visitors have the option of joining guided hikes to the upper cliff dwelling. Reservations are required for the small group tours that take a 1.5-mile hike on a dirt path to a larger site that once housed up to 100 people.

Get on the Lake

Below the cliff dwellings, Roosevelt Lake spreads across the valley floor. When the Salt River was dammed to create Roosevelt Lake, countless archaeological sites from prehistoric people who lived along the river were lost underwater. At Roosevelt Lake, visit the restaurant or go all in and rent a boat at the marina. Find six boat launch areas around Arizona’s largest lake and enjoy a day of high-flying fun with waterskiing and Jet Skiing on this refreshing expanse of water set in one of the hottest areas of the state.

“These people that were living here and the tribes still associated, they knew this landscape so intimately and that is something we want to celebrate here at Tonto National Monument. It is something we want visitors to enjoy and explore and there are a number of ways to do so. Whether it is hiking up to the cliff dwellings and seeing the ruins for yourself, making the reservation for the longer guided hike, or coming through the museum area and talking to the ranger at the desk to see physical pieces of pottery, everyone visiting will take away something unique or special to them.”

- Lindsey A Brendel, NPS Park Ranger

Tonto National Monument
NPS Ranger Lindsey A. Brendel

Take a Scenic Drive

Visitors from the Phoenix area might try to reach Tonto National Monument via Highway 88 along the historic Apache Trail, but that rugged mountain road is closed. Instead, take the scenic route through historic mining towns via highways 60 and 188. Start in Globe-Miami and wind through the craggy mountains to reach Superior along Arizona’s Copper Corridor. Visitors from the north can drop off the Mogollon Rim at Payson and take highways 87 and 188 to reach the monument. Combine the two drives to get a snapshot of Arizona’s biodiversity from arid desert canyons to high-elevation pine forests.

For More Information

Tonto National Monument
26260 N. AZ Hwy 188
Roosevelt, AZ 85545
(928) 467-2241

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