Road Trip Destination: Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument

I love Roosevelt Lake and the area surrounding it, Tonto National Forest, which is full of fun things for families to do.  When I was kid we used to visit Roosevelt Lake quite often since my grandparents had a weekend trailer there. Other than swimming, boating , and fishing at the lake we used to frequent Roosevelt Cemetery and when we felt like taking a moderate hike, we went to Tonto National Monument.

The Tonto National Monument consists of well-preserved cliff dwellings that were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. They are breathtaking and amazing. I wonder if the people who lived in these cliffs all those years ago sat and gazed at the beauty of their surroundings. The view on the way up to the dwellings is unlike anything you will see in our valley. Even my teenage brother took a minute to soak it all in.

tontoAt one point on the way up you can see Roosevelt Lake. My daughter took a minute to stare at the view and try to read the sign. There are several stops on the way up that share information about the area, the people, and the ruins. There is also a visitor center at the base of the trail where you can obtain even more information if you want to learn more than the signs offer.

tonto view

Even small children will love the ruins. However, they may have a hard time reaching the top.  Be prepared to stop several times and take in the sights to let their little feet rest. We have only visited the Lower Ruins, but never the Upper Ruins. The Upper Ruins require a 3-4 hour guided tour that is considerably more difficult than the open trail up to the Lower Ruins. It really is not something to attempt with small children.  I hope to finally visit the Upper Ruins in a few years.

tonto up top

I encourage you to add the Tonto National Monument to your next road-trip in this area. It really is something you must see for yourself.

Hours, Fee, and Other Information

Daily, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except Christmas Day.

Lower Cliff Dwelling trail closes to uphill travel at 4:00 p.m.

Individual Fees – $3.00 per adult – good for 7 days; children under 16 are free.

Major credit cards are accepted.

Reservations are required for Upper Cliff Dwelling tours. There are no additional fees for the tours.

Driving time from Phoenix or Scottsdale: 2 hours; from Tucson: 3 hours; from Flagstaff: 3 to 3 ½ hours.

From Phoenix, take State Highway 60 (Superstition Freeway) east to Globe/Miami (75 miles); turn left (northwest) on State Highway 188 and drive 25 miles to Tonto National Monument.

About Janice

Janice is an Arizona native, a soldier's girl, daughter of the King, and mother to two. She shares family activity ideas, recipes, crafts, and product reviews at Celebrating Family. Read more about Janice here!


  1. Looks like a fun trip!
    Elizabeth from Get Busy Living blog

  2. Looks like a great family activity. We love to hike as a family, so it’s right up our alley!