Today (Feb 3rd) a group of us took the backcountry hike to the “Upper Cliff Dwelling” ruins in Tonto National Monument. This hike (about 3 miles) is led by a Park Ranger (you cannot go without a Park Service escort). I’ve always been fascinated by the history of these vanished peoples, so having a knowledgeable guide makes the hike a great experience.
The hike starts in a quiet canyon which has a small spring-fed stream. This source of reliable moisture nurtures a wide variety of plant life, small grassy meadows, and wildlife. Deer, cougars, and bear are among the regular visitors in the area.
“Does a bear shit on the trail?” Yes — see below. (At least that’s what the Ranger said it was.
After about a half mile the canyon opens up, and our destination is seen about 600 feet above us in an alcove on the canyon wall. The route up is by a long series of switchbacks, but it’s a well constructed trail, so not a difficult ascent.
During the climb you’re treated to awesome panoramic views of the Tonto Basin, Lake Roosevelt, and the Sierra Ancha mountain range in the distance across the basin.
Eventually we reach the ruin. This structure contains about 14 rooms. Construction started about 1250 AD and the dwelling was occupied until approximately 1450 AD, when it was abandoned and the residents migrated away.
It amazes me that these beams, approaching 800 years old, still support a heavy floor for the room above! I wonder how my basement joists will look in 750 years!
What price would a modern day homebuyer pay for views like these?