Lower Cliff Dwelling
Tonto Basin has been occupied for hundreds of years - Europeans, Apaches, and prehistoric peoples have all called it home. One of these groups, known by archeologists as "Salado", constructed the cliff dwellings you see today. To view a floorplan of the Lower Cliff Dwelling, click on the link.
Arizona contains some of the nation's - and indeed the world's - greatest archaeological sites. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this site etiquette guide that will facilitate an enjoyable visit for you, AND for others who follow you! This is a PDF document.
Archeologists are not sure why movement into the caves began. Perhaps it was for protection from weather or from other people; perhaps it was to get away from the "city life" of the basin floor. Whatever the reason, construction on the 20-room Lower and 40-room Upper Cliff Dwelling began around AD 1300. Some materials were easily gathered, with the cave floor and surrounding hillsides providing plenty of rocks. Other materials, such as pine and juniper roof beams, had to be carried down from the surrounding mountains.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument averages 15" of rain annually. Snow is a rare occurrence, but as long as temperatures remain above freezing, the saguaros don't seem to mind!