Tonto National Forest is an adventure close by to Gold Canyon Arizona. The forest is situated within rugged terrain in the northeastern part of the Sonoran Desert. There are well-preserved cliff dwellings that were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries.
There are interesting opportunities regardless if you only have a little time or a lot. Even if you only 30 minutes or so you can watch an 18-minute orientation video, view the Lower Cliff Dwelling from the deck, and take a quick visit at the museum.
With a bit more time you can do all this and also hike the 1/2 mile Lower Cliff Dwelling Trail and depending on your time, perhaps even have a picnic.
With yet more time you can visit the Upper Cliff Dwelling trail which is open each year from November through April and you might decide to make a reservation for the three mile round trip hike.
Check their website for more information. Depending on the time of the year there may be special activities scheduled, such as full moon hikes, off-site hikes, and living history demonstrations.
Tonto National Forest Lower Cliff Dwelling Floorplan
The Tonto area offers a unique look at the early Indian cultures that lived in the area. Around 1250 AD, some Tonto Basin people began building in the caves that still exist to this day in the location. The Lower Cliff Dwelling was one of those villages. It has been protected from the elements for the past 700 years and now it provides a rare opportunity to visit and explore part of the southwest’s prehistoric past.