Family Travel: Visiting Ancient Dwellings in and Around Phoenix, IMG Cred: National Park Service

Montezuma Castle!

Exploring ancient dwellings from the past can be an exciting and fun family activity.  Ancient ruins can be found throughout the entire state of Arizona, but these covered in this list are within a few hours of the city.


Pueblo Grande Museum & Cultural Park.  Phoenix, AZ

Explore the remains of the ancient Hohokam Indian Village right from the city of Phoenix. On site, visit three unique galleries, watch a video, or head outdoors on the interpretive trail taking you to original platform mounds and ballcourts, as well as replicated housing and canal systems.


Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.  Coolidge, AZ


Get acquainted with the Sonoran Desert People’s Great House and farming community that is still considered a great mystery.  A visitor center and Junior Ranger program are available to help keep kids involved.


Besh-ba-Gowah Archaeological Park.  Globe, AZ


Salado ruins, an expansive Ethno-botanical garden, and the largest collection of Salado pottery artifacts await your family.  Watch the short video to get acquainted with both the culture and the excavation process involved in creating the park.


Tuzigoot National Monument.  Clarkdale, AZ


These mountain-top ruins and large citadel built by the Sinagua people show insight into their ancient. The museum is the best place to learn about the lives of the Sinagua, who were farmers, artists, and traders.  


Montezuma Castle National Monument. Campe Verde, AZ


One of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the country, Montezuma Castle is an 800-year-old, five stories, 20-room apartment complex etched out of a limestone cliff.  The easy-to-walk 1/3-mile loop trail leads you past the massive cliff dwelling, making it accessible to most everyone.


Palatki Heritage Site. Sedona, AZ


This site, which is free to visit, takes visitors on one of three trails to explore Sinagua dwelling ruins and pictographs, all set in the stunningly beautiful Red Rocks that fill the Sedona area.


Walnut Canyon National Monument.  Flagstaff, AZ


This stunning collection of 700-year-old pueblo cliff dwellings exist on what is called “The Island.”  The best way to get to this island is a strenuous, although short hike down (and later up) nearly 250 stairs on the Island Trail.  Although it may take some a bit longer to make the walk back up, my small children managed this trail and I heartily recommend it.


Wupatki National Monument. Flagstaff, AZ


Easily accessed by a short, flat walk from the visitor center, this 100-room pueblo exists far from any known water source.  The fascinating story behind the culture and people who inhabited these dwellings can be discovered and explored in the visitor center.


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photo: Courtesy of National Park Service

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