Historic Sites
Learn through history by visiting interesting historic sites around the state of Arizona. Historic sites let you put a real face on the history that you've read about, making it more exciting for you and your children.
Historic Sites in Arizona
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Nestled into a limestone recess high above the flood plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley stands one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling served as a "high-rise apartment building" for prehistoric Sinagua Indians over 600 years ago. Early settlers to the area assumed that the imposing structure was associated with the Aztec emperor Montezuma, but the castle was abandoned almost a century before Montezuma was born. With heightened concern over vandalism of fragile southwestern prehistoric sites, Montezuma Castle became a major factor in the nation's historic preservation movement with its proclamation as a national monument. The Castle was described in the December 1906 establishment proclamation as "of the greatest ethnological and scientific interest."
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
John Lorenzo Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878, ten years after Navajos were allowed to return to their homeland from their terrible exile at Bosque Redondo, Ft. Sumner, NM. During the four years spent at Bosque Redondo, Navajos were introduced to many new items. Traders like Hubbell supplied those items once they returned home. Hubbell family members operated this trading post until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1967. The trading post is still active, and operated by the non-profit organization, Western National Parks Association, that maintains the trading traditions the Hubbell family established. Step back in time and experience this original 160 acre homestead, including the trading post, family home and visitor center with weaving demonstrations.
Tumacácori National Historical Park
Tumacácori National Historical Park in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley of southern Arizona is comprised of the abandoned ruins of three ancient Spanish colonial missions. The Park is located on 45 acres in three separate units. San José de Tumacácori and Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi, established in 1691, are the two oldest missions in Arizona. The third unit, San Cayetano de Calabazas, was established in 1756. Visitation to the Guevavi and Calabazas units is available only by reservation during monthly tours guided by the Park staff. All visitor services and Park operations are based out of the Tumacácori unit.
Tuzigoot National Monument
Crowning a desert hilltop is an ancient pueblo. From a roof top a child scans the desert landscape for the arrival of traders, who are due any day now. What riches will they bring? What stories will they tell? Will all of them return? From the top of the Tuzigoot Pueblo it is easy to imagine such an important moment. Tuzigoot is an ancient village or pueblo built by a culture known as the Sinagua. The pueblo consisted of 110 rooms including second and third story structures. The first buildings were built around A.D. 1000. The Sinagua were agriculturalists with trade connections that spanned hundreds of miles. The people left the area around 1400. The site is currently comprised of 42 acres.
Tonto National Monument
Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture 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. The Salado 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, hedgehog, and barrel cactus (blooming April through June); yucca, sotol, and agave; creosote bush and ocotillo; palo verde and mesquite trees; an amazing variety of colorful wild flowers (February through March); and a lush riparian area which supports large Arizona black walnut, sycamore, and hackberry trees.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
For over a thousand years, prehistoric farmers inhabited much of the present-day state of Arizona. When the first Europeans arrived, all that remained of this ancient culture were the ruins of villages, irrigation canals and various artifacts. Among these ruins is the Casa Grande, or "Big House," one of the largest and most mysterious prehistoric structures ever built in North America. Casa Grande Ruins, the nation's first archeological preserve, protects the Casa Grande and other archeological sites within its boundaries. You are invited to see the Casa Grande and to hear the story of the ancient ones the Akimel O'otham call the Hohokam, "those who are gone." Located near Coolidge.
Chiricahua National Monument
Twenty seven million years ago a volcanic eruption of immense proportions shook the land around Chiricahua National Monument, located near present day Willcox. One thousand times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Turkey Creek Caldera eruption eventually laid down two thousand feet of highly silicious ash and pumice. This mixture fused into a rock called rhyolitic tuff and eventually eroded into the spires and unusual rock formations of today. The monument is a mecca for hikers and birders. At the intersection of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, and the southern Rocky Mountains and northern Sierra Madre in Mexico, Chiricahua plants and animals represent one of the premier areas for biological diversity in the northern hemisphere. Of historic interest is the Faraway Ranch, a pioneer homestead and later a working cattle and guest ranch. Faraway Ranch offers glimpses into the lives of Swedish immigrants Neil and Emma Erickson, and their children. The house is furnished with historic artifacts which not only give us reminders of our youth and our ancestors, but one can also trace the development of technology during the first half of the twentieth century.
Pipe Spring National Monument
Pipe Spring National Monument, a little known gem of the National Park System, is rich with American Indian, early explorer and Mormon pioneer history. The water of Pipe Spring has made it possible for plants, animals, and people to live in this dry, desert region. Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians gathered grass seeds, hunted animals, and raised crops near the springs for at least 1,000 years. In the 1860s Mormon pioneers brought cattle to the area and by 1872 a fort (Winsor Castle) was built over the main spring and a large cattle ranching operation was established. This isolated outpost served as a way station for people traveling across the Arizona Strip, that part of Arizona separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. It also served as a refuge for polygamist wives during the 1880s and 1890s. Although their way of life was greatly impacted, the Paiute Indians continued to live in the area and by 1907 the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established, surrounding the privately owned Pipe Spring ranch. In 1923 the Pipe Spring ranch was purchased and set aside as a national monument. Today the Pipe Spring National Monument - Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum explains the human history of the area over time. Daily tours of Winsor Castle, summer "living history" demonstrations, an orchard and garden, and a half-mile trail offer a glimpse of American Indian and pioneer life in the Old West.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
At the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves are ruins of Indian villages built between AD 350 and 1300. Canyon de Chelly National Monument offers visitors the chance to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest basketmakers to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here. Located near Chinle.
Navajo National Monument
Navajo National Monument preserves three of the most-intact cliff dwellings of the ancestral Puebloan people (Hisatsinom). The Navajo people who live here today call these ancient ones "Anasazi." The monument is high on the Shonto Plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system in the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. The monument features a visitor center, two short self-guided mesa top trails, two small campgrounds, and picnic area. In the summer, rangers guide visitors on tours of the Keet Seel and Betatakin cliff dwellings. Tours are usually available during the spring and fall months as well.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Fort Bowie commemorates in its 1000 acres, the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apaches and the United States military. For more than 30 years Fort Bowie and Apache Pass were the focal point of military operations eventually culminating in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 and the banishment of the Chiricahuas to Florida and Alabama. It was the site of the Bascom Affair, a wagon train massacre, and the battle of Apache Pass, where a large force of Chiricahua Apaches under Mangus Colorados and Cochise fought the California Volunteers. The remains of Fort Bowie today are carefully preserved, the adobe walls of various post buildings and the ruins of a Butterfield Stage Station. It stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier.
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