Explore the Amazing Casa Grande Ruins Near Mesa, AZ
For more than 650 years, Casa Grande served the Sonoran Desert’s farming community as a gathering place and historic landmark. Rich with mystery and complexity thanks to the extended network of communities and irrigation canals, these ancestral ruins are preserved for today’s guests to enjoy. Explore the amazing Casa Grande Ruins Near Mesa, Arizona, with the help of this handy guide.
Take a Tour of the Ruins
Tours are offered nearly hourly from late November to mid-April. Each tour guide is highly trained in the history of the ruins, including the “Great House,” archeology, and the native Hohokam culture.
Follow your ranger or volunteer into Compound A, where you’ll start your journey with a variety of interesting features. Guests are not permitted to enter the “Great House” due to visitors’ safety concerns and to protect the artifact.
Many of the park’s visitors have discovered that the desert can be a great hotspot for birding. Resident great horned and western burrowing owls call the park home, as do 18 species of hummingbirds native to Arizona. The Anna’s hummingbird has been spotted nesting near the visitor center.
Look at the saguaro cactuses. These “bird hotels” are often home to the northern flicker, another common resident here in Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
Of course, there are many other species of animals that call the ruins home. The round tail ground squirrel is quite abundant and is one of the area’s most popular crowd-pleasers.
This national park also has bats in its belfry. An impressive 28 species of bats live within the park boundaries, and they feed on pollen and nectar. These often misunderstood critters are critical to the pollination of many varieties of cactuses such as saguaro, organ pipe, and agave.
Plants of the Sonoran Desert
The word desert often brings to mind a barren land filled with prickly cactuses. That’s actually true. The area surrounding the Casa Grande ruins features thousands of the Sonoran Desert’s signature plant: the saguaro. The landscape is also thick with other common cactuses including the barrel, the prickly pear, and the hedgehog.
Visitors can discover plenty of woody plants as well, including the aromatic mesquite, the shady palo verde tree, and the medicinal creosote bush. The most surprising resident of this desert is the fern. With a remarkable diversity of plants across the southwest, the species range from the Selaginella club-mosses to the tiny whisk ferns of the Psilotum family.
Have a Picnic
Bring a basket full of delicious fare and enjoy a picnic on the park grounds. Its covered picnic shelters are open the same hours as the visitor center, and one of the covered dining pavilions offers guests the use of an outdoor kitchen with a rental fee. Just remember not to feed park wildlife.
Join friends and family at the Casa Grande Ruins from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. peak season from October 1 through April 30 and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the summer. Admission to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is always free.
Image via Flickr by midiman | Cropped from original