The last time we were in Arizona, at the end of our rather epic journey along the Apache Trail, we passed the entrance to the Tonto National Monument. It was closed at the time, so while it mentioned cliff dwellings, we had to look it up later to see what it involved.
Turns out, there are two sets of dwellings, the Upper Dwellings, which are visible from the road if you’re taking 188 in from Globe (we were going the opposite direction in our initial trip) – which you can see in the second two pictures above. They’re also harder to get to, so you have to book a guided trip to get there. It’s enough of a hike that we decided against that for this go.
The Lower Dwellings are accessible from the visitor’s center. It’s a nicely paved path, with a bit of an incline, but not really a bad hike at all. We actually arrived at the same time as two classes of fourth graders, so I figure if they can do it without complaint, it can’t be that bad.
The views from this place are spectacular. It looks out over Roosevelt Lake, which at the time it was built would have been the Salt River valley (it was built in the 13th century). The people that built it are named for that river (the Salado – our name for them, as they were gone by the time Europeans arrived in the area). Apparently, around 40 people lived in this set of dwellings, which I admit is hard to wrap your head around when you think about the size of our modern houses.
One really neat thing – you can still see the hand prints of the people that plastered the walls (the last picture) – I’ll admit that was probably my favorite thing to see there.