Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tonto Monument Upper Cliff Dwelling

Saturday, March 14, 2015

After breakfast this morning with trepidation, I left Yuma at 8:15 am in the motorhome while I went to see the upper cliff dwelling at the Tonto Monument.

Except for this weekend, the only way you can go to the upper cliff dwelling, is to schedule a visit in advance, so I am glad I was in the area this weekend.

I thought the gates opened at 8:00 am, but when I got there I found they do not open the gate to go up the mountainside till 9:00 am.  Fortunately, the museum was open, so I took this opportunity to walk through the museum and read about the cliff dwellers and see some of their pottery and cooking utensils.

I was with the first group that left right at 9 am.  There were about 20 of us at the starting gate, when the ranger opened it.  I didn’t race up the mountainside to be the first there, because I wanted to stop and take photos as I went.

Thursday, I visited the lower cliff dwelling, but this one is a mile and a half trek to reach the cliff dwelling.  We first followed a shallow stream and then started climbing.   Fortunately, there are switchbacks to make the climb easier, but it was still a long climb.  Luckily, it was early morning and it was still fairly cool.  I pity the people making the climb this afternoon.  They will really feel it.


Saw this flower as I was walking up.  Looks beautiful, but I don’t know what it is.  The white flowers had bloomed in the sunlight but not the pink ones.


It took about an hour to get to the cliff dwelling and I documented what I saw in the following photos:

This first photo is of the south end of the lake.  I took it standing at the entrance to the dwelling.  However, this is a manmade lake, so during their time it was a large valley.


This one room still had much of the original roofing.  Made of trees, reeds covered in mud.


At the back against the cave wall, water would seep out, so they made a cistern to hold the water.  There was no water there now.



Once done with my visit, I hurried back down the mountainside.  While leaving the visitor area, there were cars and trucks parked all along the roadway leading down to hwy 188 and there were shuttles bringing the visitors up to the visitor center.  I’m glad I was there early so I didn’t have to go through that hassle.

I was back at the motorhome before noon and I had one happy dog waiting for me.  He had been just great.  The place was just as I left it, so he got two treats for being so good.

It was a very interesting visit.  I have never seen cliff dwellings until this week.

See you later.


  1. Your hike up to the dwelling was beautiful! I love the white flowers! Good boy Yuma! I would have given him 2 treats too. :).

  2. Very nice trip. We have seen other dwellings other places and they never cease to amaze us.

  3. Not sure I could make the 1.5 mile hike as I have a back injury. We've been to Mesa Verde twice now and I can't do that either because of my heart condition. Oh, well...I sure enjoyed your photos! :-)
    Cheryl Ann

    1. I am sorry to hear that Cheryl Ann. That is one reason I came out this year. It is harder for me to move around and I know my days are numbered, so I must do this while I still can.

      Glad you liked the photos. At least you didn't have to climb to see a lot of it through my photos. That is the reason I do so many. To give viewers a chance to see what I see.

  4. Looks like a very interesting climb! Amazing how people adapted and lived in the desert in dwellings like that.
    KarenInTheWoods and Steveio
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

    1. It sure is Karen. How would like to make that commute every day to work and back? They must have been a hardy people.

  5. If you enjoyed this cliff dwelling, then you might enjoy the Gila Cliff Dwelling north of Silver City, NM. The hike up there is much easier and the scenery is beautiful.

    The Catwalk is also in the area but it has been closed since last September due to flooding and lots of damage. No word on when it will be open, but the Catwalk was very interesting and a nice walk. It is near Glenwood, NM.

    Just a couple suggestions. Nice blog. Have fun out there.

    BTW I was born in Gillespie, IL and have been to Bloomington a few times. Left Gillespie many years ago but still visit them once a year.

    1. Thanks Clark. I have driven past Gillespie many times on my way to or through St. Louis. Thanks for the info on the Gila Cliff Dwelling. May have to save that for next year as I come in on the southern route. Heading for I-40 this time around. Hope the weather stays nice for the coming week.

  6. The Upper Cliff Dwellings were fascinating. There looked to be more than homes, but a whole village. Pretty amazing. It looked like a pretty steep climb. I wonder what the original inhabitants navigated the terrain. Good boy, Yuma! I knew you could do it! You deserved 2 treats!

    1. Thank you Dolly. They must have been good climbers. I'm sure they didn't use switchbacks either. Yuma sure was a good boy.

  7. Cliff dwellings always set one's imagination on fire & just boggle the mind when trying to think back to those times. We enjoyed the Gila Cliff Dwellings near Silver City New Mexico. Don't know your route home but if you ever get up into northeastern Arizona be sure to head for Canyon De Chelly. Cliff Dwellings & a rambling canyon with a sadness for Native people. Canyon De Chelly is one of those historic places where you may hear the whispers of the Ancients if you should linger long......................

  8. Thanks, Al. Canyon De Chelly is not far from my route on I-40. Will have to check it out on the Internet.