The Best Places to See Native American Ruins
- Tonto National Monument (east of Phoenix): Reached via the Apache Trail scenic road, this archaeological site has one of Arizona's only easily accessible cliff dwellings where visitors are allowed to walk around inside the ruins, albeit under the watchful eye of a ranger.
- Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park (Globe): Reconstructed to look the way they might have appeared 700 years ago, these Phoenix-area ruins provide a bit more cultural context you’ll get at others in the state, making them especially good for kids.
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (west of Florence): Unlike most of Arizona's other ruins, which are constructed primarily of stone, this large and unusual structure is built of packed desert soil. Inscrutable and perplexing, Casa Grande seems to rise from nowhere.
- Montezuma Castle National Monument (north of Camp Verde): Located just off I-17, this is the most easily accessible cliff dwelling in Arizona, although it cannot be entered. Nearby Montezuma Well also has some small ruins.
- Wupatki National Monument (north of Flagstaff): Not nearly as well known as the region's Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, these ruins are set on a wide plain. A ball court similar to those found in Mexico and Central America hints at cultural ties with Mesoamerican cultures such as the Aztecs.
- Canyon de Chelly National Monument: Small cliff dwellings up and down the length of Canyon de Chelly can be seen from overlooks, and a trip into the canyon itself offers a chance to see some of these ruins up close.
- Navajo National Monument (west of Kayenta): Keet Seel and Betatakin, the two main ruins here, are some of the finest examples of Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in the state. Although the ruins are at the end of long hikes, their size and state of preservation make them well worth the effort.
The Best Places to See Petroglyphs & Pictographs
- Deer Valley Rock Art Center (Phoenix): This park, northwest of Phoenix, not only preserves a rock-strewn hillside covered with petroglyphs, but is also the best place in the state to learn about rock art.
- Palatki Heritage Site (Sedona): This small Sinagua cliff dwelling west of Sedona preserves not only ruins but also quite a few pictographs (paintings). Such paintings survive in only a few well-protected spots in the state.
- V Bar V Heritage Site (Sedona): Not only are the petroglyphs at this national forest site extensive, but they also have been linked to a variety of solar events. At different times of the year, shadows fall on different images on the rock wall here.
- Rock Art Ranch (southeast of Winslow): Set in a remote little canyon, this private historic site preserves one of the most extensive collections of petroglyphs in the state. You can visit only by reservation, and if you're lucky, you might have the place all to yourself.
- Saguaro National Park (Tucson): Signal Hill, in the west unit of Saguaro National Park, has a large petroglyph spiral that often catches the light of the setting sun just right. Although this spot doesn't have a lot of petroglyphs, a sunset visit can be a magical experience.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.