One on the largest prehistoric structures in the United States is Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The National Park Service-managed site is located in Coolidge, Arizona, between Phoenix and Tucson, about an hour from each city.
The monument offers a look at the lives of the Sonoran people who lived in the area, as well as in other places throughout the Southwest, for around 2,000 years. While historians aren’t sure of the site’s purpose, it is held that the Great House was a meeting spot for the Sonorans, whose innovative farming practices and use of canals were adopted by many other groups across the region.
Tours cover the history and archeology of the ruins, as well as offering insights into Sonoran life. Rangers take visitors into Compound A and point out the features of this ancient site. While groups cannot enter the Great House, based on safety and resource-protection concerns, they can get close to the historical structure. It has been well-preserved, thanks to the portico that was built to protect it in the early 1900s.
The tours are offered multiple times a day from late November to mid-April. Between May and October, the warmer temperatures are a factor in fewer guided walks being offered, especially during the heat of the day. Self-guided tours are available, and interpretive signage provides details on what visitors see.
Weekends in the late fall and winter often feature special artists and demonstrations, and a number of programs for students (advance reservations required) are offered during those months. Special tours, such as backcountry archeology walks, are available in the spring.
To learn more, call +1.520.723.3172 or go to nps.gov/cagr.
Top photo: Casa Grande
Photo by National Park Service