Visitor Center is closed
The Visitor Center and bookstore will be closed for several weeks for construction. A temporary Visitor Center will be set up in the parking lot. The trail to the Lower Cliff Dwelling will be open during this period. No entrance fees will be collected.
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?
Spring can be a very colorful season at Tonto National Monument, but when will the wildflowers bloom? Rain is needed throughout the winter, and warm days are a good indicator of a full bloom ahead. If you miss the peak flowering season, remember that you’ve also missed the peak crowds. More...