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Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Gila River Valley, Arizona

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Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

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  • The main ruin is protected from the elements by a large roof structure.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • Before being protected as a national monument, the site suffered from souvenir hunters and vandals.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • There are other partial structures on the site that show the general outlines of the original compound.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • No one knows why the site was abandoned around 1450 AD.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • Casa Grande Ruins National Monument was the first cultural and prehistoric site to be protected by the United States government. It was set aside in 1892 by President Benjamin Harrison.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • The structure is constructed of caliche, a naturally occuring soil mixture that turns quite hard when mixed with water and dried.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • The visitor's center and orientation film are excellent.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • The "ball court" as seen from the picnic viewing platform.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • The picnic area has tables, grills, and a nice amount of shade.- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • - Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Historically interesting. Short stop. Easy to get to.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Gila River Valley, AZ
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Casa Grande Ruins is a great stop located between Phoenix and Tucson. While it may not be worth a destination by itself, it certainly makes an interesting and informative driving break. In addition to the a short film about the area, there are excellent docent-led tours and self-directed tours available.

The ruin was first described by a European in 1694. Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino described the site in his journal and was the first to call it Casa Grande, or "the great house." Built around 1350 AD and abandoned around 1450, it is one of the largest pre-European dwellings constructed in America. The site became a national monument in 1916. More than just a single structure, Casa Grande is actually a part of a larger complex now called Compound A, which shows signs of being a multi-purpose site used for housing, commerce, and ceremonies. There are other compounds nearby, none of which are open to the public. There is also a contemporaneous structure believed to be a ball court used for games of some kind. Similar ball courts are found all over the Southwest and seem to indicate some level of cooperation by peoples across the region. The ball court is visible from a viewing platform on the site.

There is a nice picnic area, plenty of parking, including some for RVs, and the whole complex is just minutes off of highway 87 between Tucson and Phoenix.

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(4 within a 30 mile radius)

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