This event will be an enjoyable time exploring the well preserved Salado Indian Ruins in a canyon on the west side of Roosevelt Lake. We will leave the meet-up place at 6:30 am and travel to the Tonto National Monument to tour the Lower Ruins and then the Upper Ruins. Our Tour of the Upper Ruins begins at 10 am on December 1st. I have a reservation for a private tour for just our group of 15. We should be done touring the ruins noonish. After touring the Ruins we will be heading to the Cholla Campground for an afternoon of relaxing and enjoying the lake. Sunday morning we can enjoy the morning at our leisure and return to the valley when desired.
Tonto National Monument: The well-preserved lower and upper cliff dwellings were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native wildlife and plants. They were fine craftsmen, producing some of the most exquisite polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest. Many of these objects are on display in the Visitor Center museum.
The monument is located in the Upper Sonoran ecosystem, known primarily for its characteristic saguaro cactus. Other common plants include cholla, prickly pear, yucca, agave, ocotillo, and an amazing variety of colorful wildflowers.
The trail to the Upper Cliff Dwelling is a backcountry trail. The first half of the trail meanders through a wash while gaining elevation, and requires negotiating shallow water, and some climbing on large rocks. The second half of the trail winds steeply via switchbacks and requires climbing a total of about 60 unevenly spaced steps. Keep in mind that reaching the dwelling is only half of the hike; you must return via the same route. The hike is 3 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of 600 feet. The tour takes 3 to 4 hours. Your guide will keep a moderate pace and stop frequently to talk about natural and cultural history.
Cholla Campground at Roosevelt Lake: This campground is 5 miles north of Roosevelt Dam. From Fort McDowell Casino take State Hwy. 87/Beeline Highway north for about 45 miles to its junction with State Hwy. 188. Turn right and follow State Hwy. 188 south for 28 miles to the campground. This campground is located on the shore of Roosevelt Lake and has water, individual ramadas, very nice bathrooms - a few bathrooms have showers. Camping fee is approximately $20 per site per night.
Tonto National Monument is approximately 11 miles south of the campground on Highway 188.