Day trip to Tonto National Monument and the Apache Trail

The lower dwellings at Tonto National Monument consisted of nine joined rooms.

The lower dwellings at Tonto National Monument consisted of nine joined rooms.

Phoenix sits in a valley and is surrounded by mountains.  We had to drive through the mountains to get here, but otherwise we haven’t really explored them.  Yesterday we decided to go on a day trip that would take us through the Superstition Mountains.

The purpose of the trip was to see Tonto National Monument.  Tonto is a set of cliff dwellings that were occupied in the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries.  We saw another set of cliff dwellings a couple of weeks ago and it is interesting to compare the two.  The dwellings at Tonto are a few hundred years newer than the ones at Walnut Canyon and they were much more well defined.  The Tonto dwellings were more house-like and are still in pretty good shape.

We stopped along the road to walk around a small, rocky creek.

We stopped along the road to walk around a small, rocky creek.

The hike to and from the cliff dwellings was steep, but it didn’t take more than an hour.  Part of the draw in visiting Tonto was the scenic drive home.

We knew the drive home was going to be pretty, but I didn’t know it would be adventurous!  We drove the Apache Trail from Roosevelt back to Phoenix.  It is a 40 mile trail that was used by stagecoaches when they constructed the Roosevelt Dam in  1906.  It is a very steep trail that cuts right through the mountains and 26 miles are not paved.

Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying the Apache Trail is comparable to touring the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon all in one trip.  I was skeptical at first, but after going on the trail there are certainly elements of both!

The town of Tortilla Flat has 7 people, 3 buildings, a museum, and even their own post office.

The town of Tortilla Flat has 7 people, 3 buildings, a museum, and even their own post office.

It took us about four hours to drive the 40 miles, but we stopped a few times at some scenic places.  Plus we stopped at a small town called Tortilla Flat for dinner.  When I say small, I mean small.  It has a population of seven!

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