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The 18 Popular National Monuments in Arizona

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National monuments in Arizona
Photo By John Fowler/Flickr

We all might have read about the world’s seven natural wonders in GK in smaller classes; do you remember any one of them? Let’s forget about the seven wonders, and I hope you all will be familiar with the name Grand Canyon.

Arizona in the southwestern US is a state where at any point, there is a national park or any historic site near to it.

The Grand Canyon in the Grand Canyon national park is the most popular one. But wait, this is not it. There are several other national parks and national monuments in Arizona. Let us go in-depth about it.

Historic Arizona

Well known as the Grand Canyon state, Arizona is the sixth largest state in the US, situated in the country’s southwestern part.

All the four deserts of the US, the Great Basin Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, the Mojave Desert, and the Sonoran Desert, fall in arid Arizona.

National monuments in Arizona
Photo by Marcy Reiford/Flickr. Copyright 2022

Northern Arizona has pine forests Colorado Plateau and houses the two major natural wonders, the Grand Canyon national park and the Petrified Forest national park.

Southern Arizona, known for its desert climate, is rich in the landscape of xerophyte plants like cactus. The Saguaro national park falls in the southern part.

The Renowned National Monuments in Arizona

1. Canyon De Chelly National Monument

One of the most attractive tourist destinations among the national monuments in Arizona, Canyon De Chelly national monument is located around 100 miles southwest of Four Corners in northeast Arizona.

This monument includes the floors and rims of de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument Canyon spread over 83,840 acres.

If you want to know the history of Native American tribes, from the Ancestral Puebloans to the Navajo, visit Canyon de Chelly as it has preserved the ruins of these longest inhabited tribes.

The National Park Service maintains the site, but the people of the Navajo Nation completely own it, so you cannot enter it without a Navajo guide or park ranger.

Do not forget to stop at the overlooks on the north and south rims on a self-guided tour. Spider Rock, 750 feet high sandstone spire, Mummy cave ruins, and Antelope House are the distinctive geological features of this site. The scenic drives will introduce you to the exciting ruins, caves, and petroglyphs.

If you want to go on a hike deep into the Canyon de Chelly national monument and get the insights into the indigenous culture of the inhabited tribes, get along with a Navajo guide on a jeep or horseback tour

2. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande ruins are the collection of one of the largest prehistoric ruins of Sonoran Desert farming community villages in North America.

There is not much detail about the existing Casa Grande archaeological structures, so it’s one of the most mysterious sites on the continent.

The first prehistoric and cultural reserve of the US in the list of National monuments in Arizona is located northeast of the city of Casa Grande between Phoenix and Tucson. The Hohokam Cultural site has a visitor center and restrooms available for visitors.

The National Park Service administers these Casa Grande ruins as National monuments. Prehistoric times farming methods and trade connections are noted on this site.

3. Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua national monument presents eye-catching scenes of marvelous rock formations like the Balanced Rock Formation for all geology freaks.

A visitor center about 2 miles away from the Chiricahua national monument exhibits the area’s history, and a park ranger provides trail guides and information to the hikers.

The volcanic rock formations in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona result from the Turkey Creek Caldera eruption 27 million years ago.

The siliceous ash and pumice which came out of the eruption got mixed, and rock called rhyolitic tuff formed, which eventually eroded into spires and present-day formations.

The historic Faraway Ranch, a memory of the lives of Swedish immigrants; Neil and Emma Erickson, is also present inside the monument’s area. You can plan camping and birding while visiting Chiricahua national monument.

The National Park Service administers this Chiricahua national monument, one of many national monuments in Arizona.

4. Grand Canyon – Parashant National Monument

This one of the national monuments in Arizona is situated in extreme northwestern Arizona on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon.

Here, the undeformed and devoid of vegetation of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rock layers will provide you with the geologic history of the Colorado Plateau.

In this national monument, you will find the part of the Shivwits Plateau watershed for the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. You will get a chance to look at the desert flora, deep canyons, clear night sky, and biological and historical values during your visit.

The national monument area is remote with dangerous and rough roads, poisonous reptiles and insects, the danger of heat and flash floods, etc. This is the reason behind the very few visits to this beautiful site. If you love adventure, you can go for it safely.

5. Montezuma Castle National Monument

This national monument of the national monuments in Arizona is a historic site of ancient cliff dwellings of the pre-Columbian Sinagua people who resided here 600 years ago.

The architectural wonder of cliff dwellings stands about 90 feet above a steep limestone cliff in Camp Verde, Arizona.

The five-story high apartment with 20 rooms is the major structure among the several ancient cliff dwellings of the Montezuma castle national monument.

There is Montezuma Well, a limestone sinkhole some 11 miles north of Montezuma Castle, which provides a view of the irrigation system used by the Sinagua people.

Montezuma Castle has a visitor center that includes a museum and bookstore. There is also the facility of modern restrooms for the visitors and some picnic areas.

The National Park Service maintains these best-preserved cliff dwellings and the surrounding area of the Montezuma castle national monument.

6. Navajo National Monument

Located high on the Shonto plateau within the northwest region of the Navajo Nation territory, this national monument houses three ancient cliff dwellings of the ancestral Puebloans; Keet Seel (Broken Pottery), Beta takin (Ledge House), and Inscription House built of sandstone and plastered with mud and mortar.

This native American site in the national monuments in Arizona includes a visitor center with a museum, three short self-guided trails, two small campgrounds, and a picnic area. If you want to traverse the cliff dwellings of Beta takin and Keet Seel closely, opt for a ranger-guided tour.

The Puebloans were skilled people who did agriculture at such a great height in the desert area by living in these caves so that land was available for crops growing.

This National Park Service-managed monument’s rooms were used to store grains showing their sustainable way of life.

7. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

A UNESCO designated international biosphere reserve and home to various desert flora native to the Sonoran Desert, the Organ pipe cactus national monument is situated in extreme southern Arizona bordering Sonora of Mexico.

This is the only place in the US where you will see the organ pipe cactus and the Senita growing wild.

The wilderness area has a similar landscape to Saguaro national park. You can have the amazing experience of exploring several scenic drives like the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive, where you can view desert landscapes.

Several hiking trails get you close to the wide mountains and wilderness of desert flora and fauna.

If you want to go camping, organ pipe cactus national monument gives you many RV parks and campgrounds in a place where not many visitors come every year, and thus you can have a good lonely time in the arms of a clear desert and sky.

In his national monument among the National Monuments in Arizona, you can even find museums and art galleries and enjoy the wild organ pipe cactus sightseeing through backcountry camping if desired.

8. Pipe Spring National Monument

Next in the national monuments in Arizona is the Pipe Spring National monument in Mohave, depicting the Ancestral Puebloans, Kaibab Paiute Indians, and Mormon pioneer history.

The oasis discovered by Mormon settlers supported the life of the native American tribes near the pipe spring, where they raised crops and sustained their living.

The National Park Service managed national monument has a visitor center and museum giving glimpses of Kaibab Paiute lives.

You can go on a tour of Winsor Castle; see the summer demonstrations, historic forts, garden, and orchard, and explore the Ridge Trail. The half-mile trail makes you understand the life pattern of American Indians in the Old West.

9. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Situated in north-central Arizona is the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument protecting the cinder cone of the sunset crater, an extinct volcano of the Colorado Plateau’s most recent volcanic eruption.

This sunset crater volcano national monument in the national monuments in Arizona will provide you the sight of the rising 1000 feet crater volcano above its surrounding undeveloped arid landscape, where one can see the small islands of pine and aspen trees which supports wildlife habitat.

Though the sunset crater is closed for hiking, you can go hiking on the rugged lava flow trail or the Lenox Crater, from where you can view the sunset crater or hike the other craters. A visitor center, picnic, and campgrounds are present in the park.

On scenic drives to the national park, the two volcanic features, squeeze-ups, and hornitos, among the many features, will mesmerize you.

10. Tonto National Monument

Now again comes one of the cliff dwellings sites, the Tonto national monument Preserves the cliff dwellings of the Salado culture in central Arizona in the Superstition Mountains of Gila County. The national monument also includes some wilderness areas.

You can go on a self-guided hike to the lower cliff dwellings but a guided tour to the upper cliff dwellings.

The museum at the visitor center displays artifacts like the intricately woven textiles and the flamboyant polychrome pottery made by the fine Salado craftsmen. If interested in cliff dwellings then you must visit them and camping can also be done.

11. Tuzigoot National monument

One of the best-preserved pueblo ruins of the Sinagua people in Verde valley, Tuzigoot National Monument, is located in north-central Arizona, 120 feet above the Verde River floodplain.

If anyone wants to get into the agriculturist Sinagua culture that existed thousands of years ago, you may come here.

The national monument is a stone masonry built complex with a central or tower room standing above the other rooms; there are 110 rooms. There are two trails, Ruins Loop and Tavasci Marsh Overlook trail allowing the tourists to visit the structures.

There is a museum displaying the artifacts of the Sinagua culture, also operating as a visitor center. There are many nearby hiking trails available, like Mingus Mountain.

12. Walnut Canyon National Monument

Another one in the many National monuments in Arizona is again a site of Sinagua culture cliff dwellings named Walnut Canyon National Monument on the Colorado Plateau southeast of downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.

The single-story ancient dwellings in the national park are built on canyon walls, some of the rooms of which can be entered.

Hike the one-mile Island trail, and the whole park is covered. One of the distinct characteristic features of the Walnut canyon national monument is the Rim Trail which allows viewing the overlooks of the cliff dwellings. Walnut Creek is also one of the remarkable things to see.

The walnut in the name of the Walnut canyon national monument signifies the canyon floor, which provides a home to the species of walnut trees.

13. Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki national monument near Sunset crater national monument is a historic site of red sandstone pueblo remains in the painted desert landscape located in north-central Arizona. It is different from the remaining cliff dwellings of the Sinagua culture as they are open grassland pueblos.

Wupatki Ruin is the largest settlement with over 100 rooms on this territory. It would help if you also visited the Wukoki and the citadel pueblo.

There are ranger-guided hikes and short self-guided hikes for visiting the pueblos. The visitor center has museum exhibits of the Sinagua culture.

14. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Vermillion Cliffs
Photo By Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Arizona/Flickr. Copyright 2014

Among the national monuments in Arizona, this site protects the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon. It is situated on the Colorado Plateau in northern Coconino County of northern Arizona.

The Vermillion cliff is made up of sandstone, siltstone, limestone, and shale, which have deeply eroded, displaying the white and orange colors of the rock strata.

It is a site of colored rock formations, which makes you enjoy the scenic views of the high cliffs and deep canyon.

The famous honeymoon trail used by the Mormons runs below the Vermillion cliffs. This monument site is one of the most rugged sites, so a careful tour must be planned.

15. Sonoran Desert National Monument

We already know about the Saguaro national park, a site of wild cactus. But, among the national monuments in south-central Arizona, this monument site has a wide range of saguaro cactus forests and a variety of desert landscape beauties.

The three wilderness areas have trails for horseback riding or hiking. There are also areas for camping and hunting in this beautiful arid region.

The three mountain ranges, the Maricopa, Sand Tank, and Table Top Mountains, are included in 496,400 acres area. The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail winds through this site.

16. Ironwood Forest National Monument

This national monument in the Sonoran Desert in south-central Arizona, containing the richest amount of Ironwood trees, is spread over 129,055 acres.

You will find more than 200 Hohokam archaeological sites in the Ironwood Forest national monument. Silver Bell, Waterman, and Sawtooth, the three desert mountain ranges, are present in the monument’s area.

There are various flora and fauna in this desert ecoregion providing the visitors with a great wildlife viewing experience.

You will get a chance to see the spring wildflowers in this area. Camping is allowed by the Bureau of Land Management which manages the site.

17. Hohokam Pima National Monument

Hohokam Pima
Photo By Bruce Johnson/Flickr. Copyright 2022

Housing one of the largest Hohokam villages, Snake town, a National Historic Landmark; Hohokam Pima National monument is quite different from the other National monuments in Arizona. It is located in the Gila River Indian reservation near Sacaton, Arizona.

One can get the best knowledge about the Hohokam culture from this ancient village site. The Hohokam people were initially farmers growing crops in this sandy soil and had a trading affinity.

Various archaeological remains like red-on-buff pottery and oval-shaped bowls have been found.

18. Agua Fria National Monument

Located north of downtown Pheonix, Agua Fria national monument is a prehistoric site comprising two mesas and the canyon of the Agua Fria River.

The area is mainly semi-desert grassland containing riparian stands of cottonwoods and willows tied to the river. Pueblo la Plata is the famous prehistoric site of this national monument.

The site is full of Puebloan ruins like stone pueblos, petroglyphs, and numerous artifacts depicting the rich human history of southwest Arizona.

There is also a wide variety of wildlife and vegetation in the monument’s territory. Back-country vehicle traveling, camping, hiking, and hunting are permitted.

There are more than the mentioned above National monuments and National Parks in Arizona. The above-mentioned 18 National Monuments in Arizona are the famed ones that make Arizona a tourist spot, having unique, heartbreaking, and eye-catching wonders.

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