The Tonto National Monument is a unit of the United States National Park Service that preserves the Tonto Basin region. The Tonto Basin was once home to Native Americans, but now it's an attraction for visitors from all over the world. Tonto National Monument has so much to offer its guests, not just beautiful scenery. Visitors can experience nature in many different ways through hiking trails, scenic drives, or horseback riding tours. There are also museums and historic sites throughout Tonto National Monument that tell the story of this area's rich history.
All About Tonto National Monument
Tonto National Monument is a prehistoric cliff dwelling and diverse artifacts, located in the Tonton Basin. The site provides an opportunity to experience thriving culture deeply rooted within its natural setting while encouraging connections with the environment through preservation. Tons of people visit this national park every year because it's positioned beautifully against beautiful scenery. There are also tours available for those who want an interactive experience.
For nearly 10,000 years the Tonto Basin has provided a home to many diverse people. Archaeological evidence suggests that ancient peoples traveled extensively throughout this area and several American Indian tribes call it their ancestral lands today including White Mountain Apaches, Chiricahua Mescaleros Apache, Yavapais Pima Maricopas, or Tubarones among others. For these Native Americans who feel strong spiritual ties with Cliff Dweller's semi-annual gatherings deeming them to be ancestral home.
Plan Your Visit
Lower Cliff Dwelling
Lower Cliff Dwelling is the Tonto National Monument's most popular attraction. Visitors are taken to this section of Tonto National Monument by shuttle. The Lower Cliff Dwelling was built in five different stages between 800 and 1300 AD, with some sections believed to have been occupied until about 1450 AD.
The Lower Cliff Dwelling trail is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., closed on December 25th and you must start your hike before noon during June, July, or August. This 1-mile roundtrip will take about one hour total so be prepared with water shoes aside from any other items of clothing needed as per usual outdoor activity guidelines.
Upper Cliff Dwelling
The Cliff Dwelling is a fascinating place, and tours are offered to show you around. Tours begin in November through April every Friday-Monday. The trailhead for the tour starts at 10 am sharp with 3 miles (4.8 km) walking distance per day; about 4 hours.
The hike is tough, but the view at the top makes it worth every step. A 600-foot climb leads to an incredible point where you can see for miles in all directions, stunning mountain ranges wrapped around granite peaks are on display. Make sure to bring water and snacks because this one's going to take some energy too.
Visitor Center and Museum Hours
The Tonto National Monument Visitor Center and museum are open seven days a week from January to December, except on Christmas Day. The hours of operation are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The first step to a safe visit is learning how you can be prepared. Being aware of safety concerns and taking care not damage fragile resources will help avoid any negative impacts or problems that might arise from your stay in Tonto National Monument.
Pets are allowed to roam freely in the parking lot, on Lower Cliff Dwelling and Cactus Patch trails as well as a picnic area. Pets must always be leashed at all times because it keeps them safe from dangerous animals like cactuses that can cause a painful injury if they're not properly monitored by their owners or caretakers. Pets are not allowed in the Visitor Center, Museum, or in any of our hiking trails. Service animals specifically trained to aid people with disabilities are welcome.
There are so many things that make Tonto National Monument a great place to visit. The visitor center and museum hours, safety, pets, Lower Cliff Dwelling, and Upper Cliff Dwelling offer something for everyone. We hope you will come to see the best of Tonto National Monument soon.
Arizona's National Parks are a treasure trove of natural beauty, history, and adventure. If you're looking for some ideas on how to make the most of your visit we've compiled 7 quick tips that will help ensure your vacation in one of these beautiful places is an unforgettable experience. Visit us anytime.
Gilbert, Arizona is surrounded by some of the most picturesque national parks in the nation. Here’s a shortlist of our favorites you should visit:
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
- Agua Fria National Monument
- Water Users Recreation Site
- Phoenix Mountains Preserve
- Recreación Area
- Tonto National Forest
- North Trail McDowell Mountain Regional Park
- Salome Wilderness
All of these wonderful national parks are located just a short distance from our offices located at 1447 West Elliot Road #103 in Gilbert! Stop by for a visit anytime!