For hundreds of years, rugged terrain, remoteness, and natural camouflage isolated and protected the cliff dwellings and the materials the prehistoric people left behind. These irreplaceable treasures were threatened in the mid-1870s, however, when Western expansion and the fascination with Native American artifacts found their way into Arizona's Tonto Basin. Recognizing the significance of the region to America's cultural heritage, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the site a national monument in 1907. It was expanded to its current size of 1120 acres in 1937.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Botanists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.