About 75 miles away, above Lake Roosevelt and overlooking the Tonto Basin is the Tonto Ruins National Monument.
There are two main “villages” at Tonto, and numerous minor sites scattered on the 1,100 acres.
The “lower” site is a short walk from the headquarters building and is easily accessible to the public. Here’s a view of those ruins as seen from the parking lot.
The second main dwelling, the “upper” site is located about a mile and a half from the “lower” site and is not generally open to the public.
The park rangers lead limited numbers of hikers (15 persons, on three days of the week). These hikes are always interesting, not only for the opportunity to see “close up” some very well preserved ruins, but also to gain knowledge from the park ranger “tour guides” who always give great insight into the peoples who lived here, how the lived, and other information unavailable if you just “hiked through”.
I was fortunate to reserve two dates this winter, and today was the first of those hikes (the second will be March 7th).
The route to the upper ruins starts with a trek of about 3/4 of a mile in narrow Cave Canyon. This canyon contains year-round spring, so with plenty of water the canyon bottom is shaded and cool with a profusion of vegetation and trees.
When the trail breaks out of this short canyon walk, the upper ruins become visible in an alcove high above you. In the view below, the ruins are the light colored area in the upper part of the photo, just to the right of center. From where you stand here, the hike looks pretty daunting, but there is a well thought out trail of switchbacks and a few rock stairs which takes you up quite easily.
Here is a view of the ruins as the trail approaches them at the top of the slope.
This set of dwellings (it was home to several families) was built in the early 1200’s and occupied into the late 1300’s. Given its’ age it is remarkably well preserved. Our ranger guide today gave us about 90 minutes of time exploring the ruins, and gave a very detailed picture of the significance of various rooms and artifacts.
Below for your enjoyment is a selection of photos taken at the dwelling.