By Pam Tripp, Lead Park Ranger, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Located halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is a small yet powerful site to explore when visiting Arizona. Hundreds of years ago the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People at Casa Grande Ruins built communities, raised families, hunted and gathered food, and eventually turned to agriculture to sustain the growing Hohokam Culture. Canals were dug that used the water of the Salt and Gila Rivers and provided irrigation to the land. This water also provided the opportunity to turn the hard clay soils into adobe structures, that in areas such as Casa Grande Ruins, are still visible today.
A visit to the monument brings you closer to the prehistoric days of native people who, through the use of ingenuity and natural resources, were able to create communities within a culture that spanned more than 50,000 square miles of the Sonoran Desert. Today, at least eight traditionally associated tribes are still connected to the communities of the past, and still live throughout southern Arizona.
The monument is home to the only Great House (known as Sivan Vah’Ki to the O’odham people) that still exists among all the scattered communities of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People. It stands surrounded by the remains of other ancestral dwellings and structures. Visitors can also see the remnants of one of the last ball courts that was built and used in the once thriving community.
The site was first set aside on March 2, 1889, in an effort to protect the site from further vandalism and looting. It was then proclaimed as the nation’s first archeological preserve and cultural site on June 22, 1892, and redesignated as a national monument on August 3, 1918. By 1991, it was recognized as Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
Year round, but especially during the busy months of December through March, thousands of visitors have the opportunity to visit the park museum, watch the park movie, and walk around a portion of the ancestral ruins. Tours are given daily during the busy season, and occasionally during the hot summer months. Between November and April, the park brings in native demonstrators to show their specific skills and sell their crafts. There is also a Speaker Series every Wednesday from November to April with speakers each week discussing a variety of topics related to Casa Grande Ruins.
The national monument is located in Coolidge, Arizona, approximately 18 to 20 miles east of Interstate 10. The monument is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, October through April, and 9 am to 4 pm daily from May through September except Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Last updated: October 29, 2019