Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge, Arizona

Last week we packed up our minivan and made the 45 minute drive to Coolidge, Arizona. We visited one of Arizona’s National Monuments, the Casa Grande Ruins. I remember going on a field trip in elementary school to the Casa Grande Ruins and was awestruck.

During our pandemic year of homeschooling the kids we have covered ancient history. We finished reading about the fall of Rome this week and they are asking to continue their history lessons into the summer. This totally surprised me but I am going to take that win and pat myself on the back. Since they have enjoyed history lessons so much this year, I knew they would all be excited to see what archeologists have discovered in Arizona.

The ancestral Sonoarn desert people who lived in Arizona developed irrigation, farming, and trade. Casa Grande means “the great house”. At the peak of the community Casa Grande was home to 2,000 people. There is a mystery surrounding what happened to the people who lived here. By the year 1450 the ancestral Sonoran people begin to leave. This is just one year after the main house was completed. One theory is that the network of canals that had been established for irrigation and farming within the community could no longer support the population growth.

In the 1880’s more people began to visit the ruins. This resulted in souvenir hunting, vandalism, and damage to the site. The government began to work towards repairing and protecting the ruins in 1889. In 1892 President Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory surrounding the Casa Grande Ruins. It became the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States.

The park rangers asked that masks be worn within 6 feet of another group. I am guessing that will change now that the CDC has released new masking guidelines. The bathrooms were clean and there were only 5 other cars in the parking lot when we arrived.

There is no fee to visit and if you go when the weather is nice you can pack a picnic lunch and eat at one of the many shaded picnic areas on the site. If you are in Arizona wanting to see a cultural reserve be sure to check out the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.


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