Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument

Quick Facts

Tonto National Monument

Arizona

(928) 467-2241

Map Directions

Things To Do

   

Overview

Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture 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. The Salado 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, hedgehog, and barrel cactus (blooming April through June); yucca, sotol, and agave; creosote bush and ocotillo; palo verde and mesquite trees; an amazing variety of colorful wild flowers (February through March); and a lush riparian area which supports large Arizona black walnut, sycamore, and hackberry trees.

Map of Tonto

Latitude, Longitude: 33.649257, -111.109455

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Activities

  • Hiking

    Tonto National Monument has several trails available for hiking. Wear sturdy walking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen, and be sure to drink plenty of water while hiking.

    The paved 1/2-mile Lower Cliff Dwelling trail ascends 350 vertical feet to the dwelling, and is considered moderately strenuous; allow about an hour for the round-trip walk.

    The Cactus Patch is an off-shoot of the Lower Cliff Dwelling Trail. The paved 1/4-mile trail has interpretive signs about the cacti and other plants native to the Sonoran Desert. Allow about 20 minutes to complete this trail.

    The unpaved 1.5-mile Upper Cliff Dwelling trail ascends 600 vertical feet, and is considered strenuous. You must be accompanied by park staff to visit this dwelling; guided tours are conducted from November through April, and last three to four hours. Three to four tours are given weekly, but are limited to 15 people and often fill quickly; call early for reservations.

    Leashed pets are allowed on the Lower Cliff Dwelling and Cactus Patch trails; pets are not permitted on the Upper Cliff Dwelling trail.

  • Picnicking

    Accessible picnicking area below the visitor's center.

Seasonality/Weather

Winter Winter temperatures at Tonto National Monument are usually pleasant with highs in the 60s (15° - 21°C). The winter rainy season is January/February. Snow, though rare, is not unheard of.

Summer Summers at Tonto National Monument can be extreme, with highs in the 110s (+43° C). Be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat, and to carry (and drink) plenty of water.

Thunderstorms frequently occur during July, August, and early September. Lightning is a real hazard, since hikers are often the tallest object on the hillside.

Spring & Fall Spring and fall can be the best times to visit. Temperatures are generally mild, and the weather is dry.

Directions

Driving

Driving time from Phoenix or Scottsdale: 2 hours; from Tucson: 3 hours; from Flagstaff: 3 to 3 ½ hours.

From Phoenix, take State Highway 60 (Superstition Freeway) east to Globe/Miami (75 miles); turn left (northwest) on State Highway 188 and drive 25 miles to Tonto National Monument.

An alternate, shorter route from Phoenix is State Highway 88, also known as the Apache Trail. The trail is 47 miles long, 22 of which is a gravel road. Allow at least 2 ½ hours to complete the drive. It is recommended that you take the Apache Trail if you are coming for the Upper Cliff Dwelling tour.

Many people make a loop drive from Phoenix to Tonto Basin via the Apache Trail and returning to the Valley via either US 60 or US 87.

From Scottsdale, take State Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) north to State Highway 188 (80 miles); turn right (southeast) on 188 and drive 39 miles to Tonto National Monument.

From Tucson, take State Highway 77 north to Globe (100 miles); at intersection of 77 and State Highway 60, follow 60 through Globe to State Highway 188; turn right (northwest) on 188 and drive 25 miles to Tonto National Monument.

From Flagstaff, take Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road) to State Highway 87 (55 miles); turn right (south) on 87 and drive 72 miles to State Highway 188 (17 miles south of Payson); turn left on 188 (southeast) and drive 39 miles to Tonto National Monument.

Flying

Nearby airports include Pheonix, Scottsdale, Tucson, and Flagstaff.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(928) 467-2241

Links