Visiting Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Arizona | Ok Which Way


Visiting Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Arizona

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located within the Gila River Valley area of the Sonoran Desert. The monument protects the remains of a village dating back to the 1300’s.

It is not a large park and can be seen in an hour or two. If you were really short on time, it could even be done in less time. It just depends on how much history you want to take in.

In 1879, the railroad came to Casa Grande and with it travelers who vandalized the Great House. Mary Hemenway, a wealthy woman who funded educational and philanthropic projects set out to save the ruins. Her efforts resulted in President Benjamin Harrison protecting the site and creating the first federal prehistoric and cultural reservation. It became a National Monument in 1918.


Casa Grande Ruins National Monument sign | Ok Which Way

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Know Before You Go

Location: almost exactly half way between Phoenix and Tucson
Day Use Fees:
Overnight Options: None available at the Ruins. But, there are plenty of options nearby.
Food: No restaurants
Pets: Pets allowed on a leash

Visitor Center

I really enjoyed this visitor center. It wasn’t large, but it had just the right amount of information for me to learn some things without being overwhelmed. There was a museum and film on the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People highlighting their way of living. Through irrigation, they were able to successfully farm corn, beans, squash, tobacco, and eventually cotton.

The bookstore has typical park swag, as well as local items like pottery and baskets.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument visitor center | Ok Which Way


Casa Grande Ruins National Monument visitor center | Ok Which Way


Casa Grande Ruins National Monument visitor center | Ok Which Way



Picnic Area & Ball Court

To the north of the parking lot is a paved trail leading to a covered picnic area and a view of an ancient ball court. It is thought that this was a community gathering place where a game was played with a hard rubber or stone ball. About 200 ball courts have been found throughout Arizona.


Canals & Community

This area of the Sonoran Desert had an extensive canal system in place. Along the canals were walled communities. The village walls, as well as rooms shared by families, were created by mixing soil and water to create a thick mud to build with.




The Great House

In some of the larger villages, multi-leveled structures were built. It is assumed this one was built in the 1300’s. There are many theories about what the building was used for, but no one really knows for sure. Interestingly, the walls are situated exactly north, south, east, and west. Also, the sun lines up with certain holes in the walls during the summer solstice and the equinoxes.



Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail


Led by Juan Bautista de Anza, 240 people journeyed on a Spanish colonizing expedition from October 1775 to June of 1776. They traveled 1200 miles from Sonora, Mexico to settle in what is now San Francisco, California.



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