• Lower Cliff Dwelling

    Tonto

    National Monument Arizona

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • 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.

Gopher Snake

two male gopher snakes fighting

Two male gopher snakes fighting

NPS Photo

Gopher Snake
Pituophis catenifer

Body length: 36 - 110"
Diet: Rodents, rabbits, and birds

The photograph was taken of two male gopher snakes fighting on the Lower Cliff Dwelling trail in the spring of 1995; the fight occurred while visitors watched in late afternoon, and continued for at least two hours. Though rarely observed, such combat is probably common among male gopher snakes competing for territory or females. Each combatant tries to maintain the uppermost position and force his opponent's head to the ground.

Gopher snakes, often called "bullsnakes", are found throughout the US, and are seen with some frequency at the Monument. They are notorious impersonators of rattlesnakes - when alarmed, they flatten their heads, hiss, strike out repeatedly, and vibrate their rattle-less tails. Nevertheless, they usually become mild-mannered when handled, and are well-liked by some farmers because of the large numbers of rodents they consume.

Did You Know?

striped skunk

Four different varieties of skunk have been seen at Tonto National Monument - the hooded, hog-nosed, striped, and spotted. They may look different, but they all smell the same! More...