Casa Grande Ruins National Monument | Coolidge, AZ | 02/16/20
After a lovely few days at Joshua Tree National Park, we drove back to Phoenix for the night. We were visiting friends and attending a 30th birthday party. Fun times! During the night, I was very sick (probably from drinking Phoenix tap water…just don’t do it!) so we had a bit of a late start in the morning. Eventually we made our way down to Tucson for the final leg of our trip, stopping at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument along the way. Someone mentioned that it wasn’t very cool, but we decided to see for ourselves.
Casa Grande (“Great House” in Spanish) was built by the ancestral Sonoran Desert people around 1350. These people maintained an extensive network of irrigation, agriculture, and trade in this area for over a thousand years. They didn’t leave behind a written language, so much is unknown including the purpose of the Casa Grande and why their civilization was abandoned in 1450.
The ruins were “discovered” by an explorer in 1694, who wrote “casa grande” in his description of the site. These words were adopted and are still used today, since we have no earlier account of what this structure was called.
There is a small museum and gift shop inside the Visitor’s Center as well as a short film. Interpretive signs line walkways all around the Casa Grande. There is so much information that we spent quite a long time taking it all in.
I had never heard of this civilization prior to our visit, and I really enjoyed learning (what is known) about this culture. I’m still amazed at the intelligence these people had, with constructing irrigation channels for agriculture, aligning windows of the Casa Grande with astronomical events, and building an entire civilization.
I think it goes without saying that we really enjoyed this stop. A great piece of history and very cool ruins.
Just across the parking lot from the Visitor’s Center is a picnic area and a very short trail. This area is home to walls and other artifacts that were buried in order to preserve them.
Next up: another new National Park for us, Saguaro!