And on our guided hike yesterday at Tonto National Monument, the wildflowers were blooming.
We rode our bikes from our camping spot over the the picnic area near the Monument visitor center and then walked the rest of the way up the hill. We used our National Parks Pass to avoid paying the $3 each admission charge. We're keeping track over the next year to see if we get out money's worth out of that $80 pass.
Tonto National Monument is two cliff dwelling ruins sites that were built and occupied by the Salado Indians between the years 1200 and 1500. There is an upper site and a lower site. The lower site is easily reached from the visitors center, and anyone is allowed to visit during opening hours.
But the upper site you can only visit as part of a guided tour and you need to register in advance. They begin at 10:00am, and are held approximately 4 times per week.
The lower cliff dwelling is easily seen from the visitors center parking lot.
Our guide Davis, giving us a pre-hike talk.
They limit these group hikes to 15 people, which I think is pretty good. There were 12 in our group yesterday. The hike itself is a mile and a half each way, with an elevation gain of 600 feet. A fairly easy hike for us, and we also stopped quite a few times along the way so that Davis could tell us something about what we were seeing along the route.
An actual forest?
There's an underground stream running along this section, and as such there's a water source for the plants. There are actual trees here! So, there really is a forest in Tonto National Forest!
A nice view along the way.
That's where we're headed.
Stopped for a snack at the top. You're not allowed to bring food or your backpack into the ruins.
The ruins are in pretty good shape considering their age.
They had a pretty good view from up here!
Originally, there were 40 rooms here, with approximately 100 people living here!
We spent about 45 minutes up there, discussing the various artifacts and building methods. Davis was a good guide. He's still an intern, but he knows his stuff!
We were then allowed to remain at the top as long as we liked, and to hike back down individually so everyone can go their own speed.
Heading back down.
They say the spring wildflowers are out a little early this year.
This hillside gets lots of sun.
The flowers lined both sides of the trail.
These flowers were tiny.
It was a good hike. The entire trip totaled just over three hours.
You may not hear from us for a couple of days. We're headed to the Burnt Corral Campground this morning, and I doubt that we'll have a cell signal there.
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