• Lower Cliff Dwelling


    National Monument Arizona

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  • 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. More »

Rock Squirrel

rock squirrel

Rock Squirrel

NPS Photo

Rock Squirrel
Spermophilus variegatus

Body length: 10 - 11"
Diet: Seeds, vegetation, insects, and vertebrate animals

Often seen along the trails leading to the Upper and Lower Cliff Dwellings, rock squirrels look like the gray squirrels seen in the northern and eastern US. True to their name, they may be seen sitting on rocks or the dwelling walls. When alarmed, they give a high-pitched whistle.

Rock squirrels like to dig, and may be the primary source of damage to the ancient walls and floors of the Upper Cliff Dwelling. In some cases, squirrel activity has destroyed archeological artifacts beneath the surface. However, rock squirrels have undoubtedly inhabited the ruins for a long time, for their bones are found in some of the earliest Salado deposits.

Rock squirrels are omnivorous, eating foods as diverse as mesquite beans, green shoots, insects, and carrion.

Did You Know?

hillside with wildflowers

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...