At one of North America’s most mysterious archaeological sites, learn about Arizona’s ancient inhabitants and the North American preservation movement.
Visit the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to explore one of the earliest remaining structures in Arizona, which is believed to be one of the continent’s longest-inhabited regions. Understood to date back to the 12th century, the phenomenal archaeological site is considered one of the most important in the nation. Take a daytrip from Tucson to learn about its mysterious history and the role it played in spurring on the archaeological preservation movement in the United States.
Protected by law since 1892, the Casa Grande Ruins became the first prehistoric and cultural reserve in the country. The protection of the ruins led to the formation of countless other protected regions. Visit the site to learn about the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People to whom the megalithic structure is attributed. Sign up for a guided tour of the site to learn about the traditional landowners of the area. Southern Arizona shows signs of early agricultural practices. The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument stands at the center of a region once dissected by irrigation channels.
While there are no concrete answers as to what the building was used for, it is widely considered to be a sacred ceremonial landmark. Visit the national monument on weekends in late fall and winter for demonstrations by Native American locals. Learn about traditional craft and farming techniques during your visit. Arrive in late November for the American Indian Arts and Music Festival, hosted at the national monument.
Bring your binoculars to look for the many birds living in the region. Try to spot the great horned owls that have nested in the sheltering roof of the ruins since 2006. Explore the park on foot to look for round-tailed ground squirrels and western burrowing owls that live among the park’s cacti.
The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located on the outskirts of Coolidge. Reach the national monument from Tucson or Phoenix in about 1 hour by car. There is a small fee to enter the monument and parking is available on-site. The national monument is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.