Casa Grande Ruins
If you are looking for a half-day excursion, not too far from Phoenix, then a visit to
the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is a great choice. Located South east of Phoenix,
in the city of Coolidge, Arizona, Casa Grande Ruins was the first prehistoric and cultural
landmark to be established in the United States.
Casa Grande, or “Big House,” as it is translated to, is the main focus of the National
Monument, but is surrounded by other ruins, throughout the compound. The ancient
Sonoran people that thrived here built irrigation canals and farmed for over a thousand
years. When these ancient Sonoran people disappeared, so did the reason they built the
Casa Grande. There are several theories as to what it was used for, but no one knows for
The visitor’s center has a nice display of artifacts and information about the Casa
Grande Ruins and the people who built it. The children can participate in the Jr Ranger
program by answering questions in the booklet they provide, and earning a badge. I thought the
Jr Ranger program here was adaptable to ages 3 and up easily. My kids all learned something new!
If you are going to visit the Casa Grande Ruins in the summer, be sure to bring extra water
and a hat or umbrella for shade. There is air conditioning in the visitor center and
gift shop, but the rest of the visit is outside, and there is no real shade. Luckily, the area can be
seen in less than a half hour, even if you read all of the signs and take photos.
They do have free tours provided by the rangers. We caught the
end of the tour and it was very informative. I would recommend it, if you can. Also, be sure to
visit the ball pit across the parking lot for an interesting view. We have visited
the ruins many times, usually because we are bringing friends who are from out of town. I don’t think we have
ever stayed more than an hour and a half.
There are bathrooms, water fountains, and
picnic tables at the National Monument. There is also ample RV parking and pet areas. Pets
are also allowed in the facility, if they are leashed and well behaved. The Visitor center,
bathrooms and Ruins Trail are all handicap accessible. And, just outside of the monument area is the small town of
Coolidge, Arizona. In Coolidge, there is food, gas, and grocery stores.
The Casa Grande Ruins is a great place to get some quick history on the ancient desert
dwellers and to see the mysterious ruins that stand stoically in the middle of the
desert. It is also a very unique place to take photos and gives you a really great view of
the surrounding desert area.
You can find The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument at:
1100 West Ruins Drive Coolidge, Arizona 85128