Agua Fria National Monument
National Monument was created by President
Clinton in 1996 and consists of 71,100 acres of
mesa and canyon. The area is currently
administered by the BLM, which allows cattle
grazing throughout much of the area. Though not
terribly interesting at first glance, the area
is actually one of the most significant
prehistoric sites in the southwest. The Monument
contains more than 450 archaeological sites,
most of which were constructed between A.D.
1250-1450 (though some are older). The BLM only
provides directions to one 'showcase' ruin
(Pueblo la Plata), however, many of the roads in
the monument lead right to some significant
sites. The other hint they provide is to look
for sites 'located at the edges of steep
canyons', which I've found to be true. You know
the drill for these archaeological areas - leave
everything the way you found it!
drive north on I-17 to the exit for Bloody
Basin Road (exit #259). Turn right off the exit
ramp onto Bloody Basin Road which soon crosses a
cattle guard and becomes well graded dirt before
reaching a kiosk (stop and pick up a map). To go
to Pueblo la Plata, drive 8.3 miles to an
unmarked dirt road on the left (north). You can
identify this road by the earthen cow tanks a
short distance down it. Turn left on this road
which is suitable only for high clearance
vehicles, though even then you may want to park
and walk the final 0.5 mile, which is rather
rough. Follow the main track staying right and
the first branch, left at the second, and left
at the third. The road then passes through a
gate and crosses a metal pipe before ending in a
small parking area and register.
||Easy, Moderate if
your heading cross country on foot looking for
||Many ruins &
petroglyphs can be reached within a short walk
from a road
||Sunny and cool
||From the car park
at the Pueblo la Plata ruin, simply walk the
short distance to the site which consists of
many rock walls and is littered with potsherds.
The ruin is one of the largest sites in the
monument and is thought to have been a village
containing an estimated 120-150 rooms. The site
is named for Silver Creek to the north, which
was likely the water source for the residents.
The prehistoric people survived by growing
foods, hunting and gathering. When ready return
the way you came, or venture deeper within the
monument in search of other discoveries.
|Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife spent a day poking
around Pueblo la Plata, then looking for and
finding other interesting sites. I found the
rock walls to be rather uninteresting, but the
artifacts and petroglyphs are some of the best
anywhere. Below are a few photos of some of the
sites we found.
||Pick one up at the kiosk at the entrance to
||Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.