Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – Coolidge, Arizona
The Casa Grande Ruins are the remains of a “Great House” that probably appeared around 1350. It was one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. The purpose of the building remains a mystery but the ruins are there for you to visit and speculate. The Casa Grande is a 4-story, 11-room structure that was built about 700 years ago.
The Casa Grande was abandoned around 1450 C.E. Since there was no written history because the ancient Sonoran Desert People didn’t leave any the information available begin with the journal entries of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino when he visited the ruins in 1694. That’s 244 years after the abandonment. Father Kino referred to the building as a casa grande which is what is still used today.
As interest in the ruin grew with the public moving closer to the area due to the train route and stagecoach route that ran right by the ruin there was a real problem with damage from souvenir hunting, graffiti, and outright vandalism which raised great concern about the preservation of this ancient site.
Because of the concern of some political leaders, there was a bill passed for the government to take steps to repair and protect the ruins. Repair work began in 1889 and in 1892 President Benjamin Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory surrounding the casa grande Ruins as the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States.
In 1903 a shelter roof of corrugated iron supported by redwood timbers was built over the Casa Grande, and between 1906 and 1908 major excavations and repairs of the ruins were conducted. Most of the lower walls visible today were uncovered at that time. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Casa Grande Ruins to be a National Monument on August 3, 1918, and management of the Ruins was transferred to the National Park Service.
Several important construction projects were undertaken during the 1930s. The main part of the visitor center building with an adjacent parking lot and entrance road, and a new steel shelter roof over the Casa Grande, were completed in 1932. Between 1937 and 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a number of adobe buildings to support park operations. All of these structures remain in use today and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, the general physical appearance of Casa Grande Ruins has changed very little since the 1940s.
Continuing research ruins repairs, interpretive programs, and visitor center remodeling are all part of the continuing effort to provide the best visitor experience possible, and to fulfill the National Park Service’s mission to protect, preserve and make available for present and future generations the many wonders of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
The Casa Grande Ruins are still used today for ceremonies and special events by the O’odham people. The Casa Grande is a place to be visited with respect and reverence.
Entrance Fee for Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is charged per person and is valid for 7 days from the date of purchase. Each adult (16 years or older) will be charged $5.00. Children 15 and younger are free.
Commercial Tour Groups are charged the same $5.00 per person entrance fee unless the visitor has a valid America the Beautiful pass.
School Groups may apply for an Educational Fee waiver, which must be approved prior to the visit. Please call ahead.
Casa Grande Ruins is entered off Highway 87/287. A 3/4 mile paved entrance road leads to the parking lot and the visitor center. There is special parking for RV’s and longer vehicles.
The self-guided tour consists of a short walk around the Casa Grande following wayside signs. Guided tours are provided from December through April. Please call for tour schedules.
Children ages 8-14 can participate in the park’s Junior Ranger Program during their visit.
A picnic area is located across the parking lot from the visitor center which has shaded tables and a raised platform to view an ancient ball court.
All areas are accessible by paved or hard-packed dirt paths. Leashed pets are welcome. Please allow one to two hours for your visit.