Tonto National Monument (Arizona)

… was created by presidential proclamation on December 19, 1907.


The well-preserved Lower and Upper cliff dwellings were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native wildlife and plants. They were fine craftsmen, producing some of the most exquisite polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest. Many of these objects are on display in the Visitor Center museum.

The monument is located in the Upper Sonoran ecosystem, known primarily for its characteristic saguaro cactus. Other common plants include cholla, prickly pear, yucca, agave, ocotillo, and an amazing variety of colorful wildflowers.

For over 100 years, these ruins have been called the Tonto Cliff Dwellings. We don’t know who named them, and there is no way of knowing when they were first seen by Europeans. Cowboys, settlers, and the cavalry were probably aware of the ruins by the 1870’s, although no known documentation exists from this period.

Tonto National Monument