Casa Grande National Monument in Arizona - WanderWisdom - Travel
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Casa Grande National Monument in Arizona

Arizona is a fabulous state filled with beauty and natural wonders. Amazing canyons (Grand!), mountains, and desert scenery await visitors.

Casa Grande National Monument

Casa Grande National Monument

Casa Grande National Monument

Archaeologists have found much of interest at this site, as ancient pueblo peoples lived, worked and died here for many centuries. Much of this was before the "discovery" of this continent by explorers from Europe and other countries, plus the westward expansion of settlers in what would eventually become the United States.

Relics of the past, including ancient ruins, were left behind as a testament to Native American Indian presence.

Casa Grande, a national monument, was on my hubby’s and my list of places to explore one year when we were spending some time in Arizona.

Preparing for a Visit

Casa Grande is in the Sonoran Desert, one of North America's largest and hottest of deserts. Depending upon the season of the year when visiting this national monument, one should dress accordingly.

Winters in the desert (November to March) can be reasonably comfortable with moderately high temperatures ranging from averages of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) with lower night-time temperatures. In the summer months, those high temperatures can become sizzling!

Do plan on wearing comfortable clothing with good walking shoes. Sunglasses and having and using suntan lotion is a smart precaution. No matter what time of year one is vacationing in the southern reaches of Arizona, the sun is almost always bright and dazzling.

When traveling through any desert territory, always having plenty of water or other fluids is a must!

Life in the Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran desert covers a good part of southwestern Arizona, parts of southern California, Baja California and parts of Mexico. Many plants and wildlife survive in that environment, including the iconic saguaro cactus.

Hohokam Indian people lived in that part of Arizona for over one thousand years before disappearing around the year 1450 from this Casa Grande site.

They were successful farmers scratching out a living in this desert territory by successfully building a series of irrigation canals.

By watching the sun's progress, a new and very accurate calendar was followed and utilized by these Hohokam Indian farmers. Farmers today also pay attention to the time of year and the best time to plant their new crops.

Archaeological ruins show how these native Americans used the sun for gauging the time of day and time of year. Petroglyphs also show marks scratched and drawn onto stones with images of the sun as well as other drawings of importance related to how they lived.

Discovery and Protection of These Ruins

As people started moving and settling in the west, those native American ruins were discovered. Father Eusebio Kino saw the site in November of 1694 and named it Casa Grande. Sadly, people began removing remnants of this ancient Hohokam Indian culture as well as drawing graffiti onto the walls.

President Benjamin Harrison, in 1892 designated this Casa Grande as the first-ever historical and cultural reserve in the United States worth protecting. The name Casa Grande means "big house" or "grand house," and the most massive structure, which is about four stories high, certainly dominates the landscape. One square mile was originally set aside containing these ruins.

By 1918 President Woodrow Wilson declared it to be a national monument, and the National Park Service took over its management.

Reinforcement of the caliche Indian ruins was undertaken to preserve it. A protective corrugated roof was built over the "big house" in 1903 to protect it from the elements.

Caliche is a sedimentary rock found in desert conditions around the world. These ancient pueblo peoples used what they found in the Sonoran Desert readily available to build their domiciles. However, caliche does not hold up well to rain. A second steel roof constructed in 1932 now protects these ruins further.

As of October 1966, it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The CCC

The Civilian Conservation Corps was a popular program that employed out of work single young men during the Great Depression. They did outstanding jobs with long-lasting effects, some of which included things such as the following:

  • Flood control
  • Erosion control
  • Forestry conservation and protection
  • Building of roads
  • Building of lodges
  • Even items with recreational purposes such as the stocking of lakes and streams with fish.

The CCC employees were not paid that much. However, during the Great Depression, being fed, receiving a little money (most of which was paid to their family) and accomplishing tasks of importance was better than being one of the countless people who had no job and who had to stand in soup lines for a bit of daily nourishment. These young men were fortunate temporary employees of the Federal Government during that time.

From 1937 to 1940, Civilian Conservation Corps members built Adobe Park headquarter buildings on the site next to Casa Grande. The park service still operates from those buildings today.

CCC workers building a rock wall

CCC workers building a rock wall

Location

Casa Grande National Monument is in Coolidge, Arizona. You will find it about forty miles south of Phoenix on the way to Tucson, Arizona.

It is well worth a stop if traveling to Arizona on vacation. Take time out to stroll the desert grounds and learn about the ancient ruins left behind in the 13th century by the Hohokam people. See some of the relics in the museum and enjoy the surrounding Sonoran desert scenery.

Monuments are the grappling-irons that bind one generation to another.

— Joseph Joubert

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 11, 2020:

Hi George,

Thanks for your visit and for sharing what it is like living with caliche soil. I have enjoyed my visits to Arizona. It has always been during the cooler months of the year.

George on September 11, 2020:

While I would not like to live in a desert climate, it is always a pleasure to visit, during the right time of year of course. Your reporting on caliche brings back memories of my childhood growing up in an area with that type of soil. It was not fun to get in the mud.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2020:

Hi Kelley,

Like you, I enjoy seeing ruins and Native American rock art in many places. As far as the heat, this time of year, it is undoubtedly pretty hot in Arizona. I guess your visit will have to be on hold. Haha!

Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on July 09, 2020:

Thanks for the great article about the pueblo Indians of the Southwest. But I think if I had a choice, I'd opt to see the cliff dwellings of the Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi) or the rock art of the Fremont Indians. Nevertheless, I'd go just about anyplace to see ruins of any sort, as long as they're not too far away or it's too hot or uncomfortable. Bye!...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 06, 2020:

Hi CMHypno,

Since archaeology fascinates you, there is much of interest waiting for you to discover in Arizona. I hope that you get to travel there someday.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on July 06, 2020:

Interesting hub Peggy. I would love to visit Arizona and visit these ruins. Archaeology fascinates me, and I have yet to have the chance to explore this ancient culture

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2020:

Hi Denise,

I agree. People, particularly in the past, have used what is nearby and most convenient to build homes. In this case, trees were practically nonexistent.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 12, 2020:

It is amazing they did that with little or no wood in the area and just the rock present. Ingenuity is astounding.

Blessings,

Denise

Robert Sacchi on June 05, 2020:

That it does.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 05, 2020:

Hi Robert,

There is no state income tax in Texas which appeals to many people.

Robert Sacchi on June 04, 2020:

Yes, Texas has a lot going for it. Income tax free, yes?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 04, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Many people, like you, who spent time in that area of the country decided to retire there years later. There is much to like about it.

Robert Sacchi on June 03, 2020:

Yes, I made the rounds during the 5 years I was in San Antonio.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 03, 2020:

Hi Robert,

I am glad that you had the time to visit all of those sites.

Robert Sacchi on June 02, 2020:

Yes, I did the tour of 4 mission one day. The one with the ovens had the most restoration work done on it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 02, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

Like you, I am also glad that this site was preserved from the ravages of wind and rain with that sturdy covering of the main structure.

manatita44 from london on June 02, 2020:

Impressive! A sacred feel about it too. I'm glad that steps were taken to preserve this holy site.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 01, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Those missions in San Antonio are all worth visiting. Even if those ovens you described were not the best or most efficient, at least it gave Depression Era men some jobs when they were most needed. The stoves serve now like pieces of art, as well as a point in history.

Robert Sacchi on May 31, 2020:

I took a tour of one of the mission in San Antonio. In the mission they made a bunch of ovens that were supposed to be like the ones the Native Americans in the area used during the Spanish Colonial period. It was one of those Depression Era projects. The tour guide said they used these now as examples of how not to make an oven.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2020:

Hi Robert,

My husband and I enjoyed visiting the monument and learning about the people who used to live there. So glad that you enjoyed learning about it as well.

Robert Sacchi on May 30, 2020:

This seems a fantastic place to visit. Thanks for posting the articles and pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about the Casa Grande National Monument.

Rosina S Khan on May 28, 2020:

Nice to know about Casa Grande National Monument in Arizona. That it was an ancient ruin left in the 13th century by the Hohokam people was interesting to know. Thanks for sharing such a valuable monument's history and pictures, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 27, 2020:

Hi C E Clark,

I agree that the man lucked out on getting to walk inside of Casa Grande. Thanks for your comment and the shares.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 26, 2020:

Great photos as usual. I've traveled around Arizona quite a bit many years ago now, but I don't recall seeing this. That man in the video who was wanting to fly his drone sure did luck out getting to go inside and look around!

Posting this on AH & FB.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2020:

Hi Aurelio,

There are many ruins in Arizona as well as New Mexico. I think you will be amazed if you search the national monument sites in Arizona.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on May 26, 2020:

I've seen ruins similar to these in New Mexico but had no idea that Arizona had them as well. We are planning a trip to Phoenix soon and will put this on the sightseeing list because it is close to the city.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

They were smart to build those houses out of the local soil and create irrigation systems for their crops. What is left behind and now protected tells some of that story from long ago.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 17, 2020:

Makes me wonder how life would have been then for these people out in the desert. One thing is for sure, these mud housings certainly kept them cool. Casa Grande is a huge structure. These ancient people were much-advanced technologically, even in those times.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2020:

Hi Linda,

If you ever decide to travel south from where you live, I think that you will find Arizona a fascinating place to explore.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 16, 2020:

This sounds like a very interesting place to explore. I would definitely visit the Casa Grande National Monument if I was in Arizona! Thank you for sharing the information, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2020:

Hi Adrienne,

There are so many noteworthy sites in Arizona for you to enjoy once you are free to do so. My recommendation would be to put Sedona at the top of your list. It is so very scenic and beautiful! Oak Creek Canyon just north of it is also gorgeous. Take care!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Between the CCC and the WPA, those agencies helped many people recover from the Great Depression. With our infrastructure crumbling in many places across the U.S., it would seem like programs like those from the past would surely help in this day and time. We need some good political leadership from the top to accomplish it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2020:

Hi Doris,

Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on the planet! You are fortunate to have a cousin living there. When it is safe to travel again, put that on your bucket list. You will be glad you did.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

I am happy to know that you enjoyed learning about these ancient ruins.

Adrienne Farricelli on May 16, 2020:

Hi Peggy, so nice that you were able to visit Casa Grande! Although my home is in Arizona, I haven't been able to do much traveling other than local attractions because I always had dogs to watch. The farthest I have gone is to Mesa. I hope to have the time one day to stop by Casa Grande. I also have Sedona on my wish list.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 15, 2020:

I’ve never been to Arizona but would enjoy visiting places like this. It sounds like the Conservation Corps needs to be resurrected for the good of the nation and hungry people.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 15, 2020:

I would love to visit lots of places in Arizona. I've never had any reason to, but now I have a cousin living in Sedona. Maybe I'll make it out there someday. I've lived in NM before though, but never made it to Arizona. Your article makes me want to go.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

Temperatures in the desert can vary widely from the heat of the day to nighttime. I am glad that you enjoyed one of the videos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2020:

Hi Mary,

We visited in the wintertime, so the temperatures were quite pleasant. It was bright and sunny, however, just like Tucson. Spending an entire winter in Tucson must have been fun.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 15, 2020:

The pueblo ruins are sure intereting. I have driven through that area f the country but doubt I will have an opportunity to return. I certainly enjoyed your article. Thanks Peggy for this new information.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 15, 2020:

The history around the Casa Grande National Monument is interesting. I have been to Bisbee Ariz. to see a relative, I remember how cold it got at night and how hot the days were. What was the most amazing was the Indian's ability to build these structures. I watched the video which was interesting also.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 15, 2020:

My husband and I spent one winter in Tucson and explored the area around so we visited this place. It was quite a new knowledge for us. We enjoyed the weather in the Sonoran desert but I have never been there in the summer.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2020:

Hi Bill,

This article was in edit form for quite some time. As to avoiding Arizona because of the heat, if you visit it in the wintertime of year, it snows at the Grand Canyon and can be chilly in the northern areas of the state. So...no excuses! Ha!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2020:

Hi Liz,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about this early Native American ruins and artifacts found there.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2020:

You threw me for a loop. This isn't Houston? lol You know, I've never been to Arizona. I've been to 34 states, but not Arizona. Can you imagine why I've stayed away? The heat! I know, a poor excuse, but there you go.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 15, 2020:

This looks fascinating. You have done a great job describing it and providing additional information in this article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

It is always fascinating to learn how people long ago lived and how they survived. These ruins were amazing to see out in that desert scenery. Thanks for your visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2020:

Hi Diana,

I agree with you. We can learn things by studying history and archeology.

Lorna Lamon on May 15, 2020:

I would definitely visit these ruins if I were ever in the area. I found the history interesting and also equally important are the safety precautions when out and about. These monuments are always a reminder of who came before us and how our lives are connected.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 15, 2020:

Yes, we need to explore our ever changing world and appreciate what went on, long before us.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2020:

Hi Diana,

Getting to see ruins like this gives us a glimpse into the lives of people who lived centuries before us. My husband and I always enjoy seeing sites like this and learning about them.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2020:

Hi Bill,

Yes, the Sonoran desert can be brutal for those unprepared to face the temperatures, lack of water, etc. I hope you like it as much as we did when we visited Casa Grande.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 14, 2020:

Incredible monuments that stand the test of time and still attract people into the desert. It has a beauty of its own and history that binds us, as you say, together.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on May 14, 2020:

I would love to visit Casa Grande, Peggy. I enjoy archaeological ruins and next time we are in the Phoenix area we will check it out. It looks like an unforgiving area in the desert.