Casa Grande National Monument in Arizona

Updated on May 26, 2020
Peggy W profile image

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 | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Casa GrandeMain entrance buildingDifferent views of the national monumentDifferent views of the national monumentNational Archives and Records Administration / Public domainDifferent view of the monument and ruins
Casa Grande
Casa Grande | Source
Source
Main entrance building
Main entrance building | Source
Different views of the national monument
Different views of the national monument | Source
Different views of the national monument
Different views of the national monument | Source
National Archives and Records Administration / Public domain
National Archives and Records Administration / Public domain | Source
Source
Different view of the monument and ruins
Different view of the monument and ruins | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Casa Grande ConstructionDetail view of the monumentDetail view of the monumentCasa Grande Big House Interior
Casa Grande Construction
Casa Grande Construction | Source
Detail view of the monument
Detail view of the monument | Source
Detail view of the monument
Detail view of the monument | Source
Casa Grande Big House Interior
Casa Grande Big House Interior | Source

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 | Source

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

Does this look like a place you would enjoy visiting?

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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

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      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!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley Marks 

      5 weeks ago from California

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      CMHypno 

      5 weeks ago from Other Side of the Sun

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 months ago from Fresno CA

      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 profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      That it does.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

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

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

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

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 months ago from london

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rosina,

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

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      2 months ago

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      2 months ago from North Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      2 months ago from Orange County, CA

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pamela,

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

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      3 months ago

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 months ago from USA

      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.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      3 months ago from Beautiful South

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      3 months ago from Sunny Florida

      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.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 months ago from Southern Illinois

      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.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

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

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      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.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Diana,

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

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      3 months ago

      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.

    • Dianadee profile image

      Diana Carol Abrahamson 

      3 months ago from Somerset West

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • Dianadee profile image

      Diana Carol Abrahamson 

      3 months ago from Somerset West

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

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