Tonto National Monument
Tonto National Monument includes the ruins of two cliff dwellings established by the Salado Indians around 1300 AD. The settlements were built relatively high up a steel hillside within protected natural caves overlooking the Tonto Basin, which today is flooded, forming the Theodore Roosevelt Lake though originally the Salt River flowed through the basin, which was fertile and well irrigated.
The Tonto National Monument was established in December 1907 by President Roosevelt. It is located 0.8 miles from state route 188 and the shore of the famous Theodore Roosevelt Lake, in a relatively empty and generally rock area with a wide variety of cacti.
Lower Ruin Trail
One of the two ancient dwellings is reached by a paved half-mile trail that leads from the museum/ visitor center quite steeply 350 feet up the rocky hillside, giving increasingly good views of Theodore Roosevelt Lake and the Tonto Basin. Along the lower ruin trail, you can spot native plants and animals such as cacti, saguaro, teddy bear cholla, Christmas holla, buckhorn cholla, Engelmann’s hedgehog, California barrel cactus, and prickly tulip pear.
The two-story lower ruin rooms are mostly entirely preserved, and permitted to walk through some of them. Ost of the surfaces is worn smooth from being walked over. Yet, the walls remain strongly thick, reflecting the general sturdy construction, unlike Anasazi’s more delicate and intricate cliff dwellings. The settlement is constructed over a big alcove lined by unusual metamorphic rocks. Initially, the only access was by ladder, leading to an entrance at the left of the structure, which made the village easy to defend. A ranger is usually present all day to answer any doubts and visitors.