The Caves of Arizona are a hidden treasure. There are over 1,000 caves in Arizona, and many of them are on Indian reservations. The caves are home to a variety of animals, including bats, snakes, and spiders. Some of the caves are open to the public, while others are closed to protect the delicate ecosystem.
#1 Walnut Canyon National Monument
3 Walnut Canyon Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004 | Website
Hike the one mile Island Trail and experience twenty five different fully accessible cave dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Enter these caves and experience what cave dwelling was like for these caves’ original inhabitants.
Along the trail, there are other caves to be seen, but for preservation purposes, the park does not permit anyone to leave the trails or enter these caves.
Plan your visit to see the caves and the awesome geological structures, and make sure to check out the website for park updates regarding hours of operation changes, trail closures, and weather updates.
#2 Wupatki National Monument
25137 N. Sunset Crater-Wupatki Loop Rd. Flagstaff, AZ 86004 | Website
Over nine hundred years ago, Native Americans inhabited pueblos on the land that is now known as Wupatki National Monument.
These pueblos can still be seen today, even after all this time. One of them in particular, the Wupatki Pueblo, has over 100 rooms!
There are also fossils from the Permian age to see in the limestone rocks next to the Lomaki Pueblo, a smaller pueblo with only 9 rooms.
Be sure to go to the visitor center to get a hiking trail map along with information about the trails, pueblos, exhibits, and activities held by the rangers.
#3 Wukoki Pueblo
Leupp Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004 | Website
Located in the Wupatki National Monument, the Wukoki Pueblo offers amazing scenic views of the surrounding landscape. The elevation of the pueblo is over four thousand feet above sea level, and it overlooks the beautiful desert.
This pueblo has seven rooms in total, which you can enter! These rooms are believed to have housed two or three families. There is also a three story tower that remains as an architectural marvel.
The trail to this pueblo is an easy one, as it is only two tenths of a mile in length and is accessible up to the base of the pueblo.
#4 Kinishba Ruins
Whiteriver, AZ 85941 | Website
Kinishba Ruins isn’t well known but it’s still worth the journey down the road.
There are some amazing structures to see. These ruins were once home to over 1,000 inhabitants and some of the ruins stand quite tall.
Note: you must have a permit to visit!
#5 Colossal Cave
16721 E Old Spanish Trail, Vail, AZ 85641 | Website
In Vail, Arizona, a mere fifteen minute drive from Tucson, Colossal Cave Mountain Park offers tours of the geological wonders underground!
Going down to a depth of about six stories, the tours will educate you on the history of the cave, legends and stories about the cave, and of course the amazing cave formations. There are several different cave tours from which to choose, each with different difficulty levels.
In addition, you can stay the night in the campground at the park and enjoy the beautiful Sonoran Desert!
#6 Kartchner Caverns
2980 AZ-90, Benson, AZ 85602 | Website
Benson, Arizona is home to the longest stalactite formation in the world, in Kartchner Caverns State Park. This enormous limestone cave is home to fossils, formations, minerals, and even some birds and bats!
Do not miss the Discovery Center, which is full of interactive educational exhibits and videos, or take a guided tour and learn about the ecosystem of the cave, as well as the story of the explorers who found it.
Head over to the website to learn more about the cave and the park, and to plan your trip!
#7 Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle Rd, Camp Verde, AZ | Website
Explore the ruins at the Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, Arizona. Go on tours or hikes to enjoy the beauty of the desert wildlife and scenery, and bring a lunch to enjoy at the picnic area on the shore of Beaver Creek.
Marvel at the architecture of the remains of this twenty story tall Castle. This dwelling formerly housed Native Americans over one thousand years ago, and can be toured inside and out.
There is also a bookstore and museum on site, displaying many of the findings from the ruins. These findings tell the story of the Native Americans who lived here before.
#8 Navajo National Monument
AZ-564, Shonto, AZ 86054 | Website
The Navajo National Monument exists to preserve and educate people on the three large pueblos in Shonto, Arizona. Archaeological evidence points to Native Americans inhabiting this region for several thousand years.
Guided tours and self guided tours both exist to give you an opportunity to experience these spectacular pueblos and the surrounding environment.
While there, make sure to stop by the Park Store for educational resources, as well as souvenirs and merchandise, as the proceeds from the store help the park fund things like special events, cultural demonstrations, and the Junior Ranger Programs!
#9 Tuzigoot National Monument
25 Tuzigoot Rd, Clarkdale, AZ 86324 | Website
One thousand years ago, a pueblo was built on a hill near the modern town of Camp Verde, Arizona. This pueblo is still here to this day, one hundred ten rooms and all!
Hike the short trail out to the pueblo and enjoy amazing views of the Verde River and Tavasci Marsh. This pueblo is fully open to the public, so you can enter all the rooms and see for yourself the amazing structure that has stood the test of time.
The Tuzigoot National Monument has information regarding weather, trail maps, and things to do all on their website that you can check out before planning your visit!
#10 Honanki Heritage Site
11450 N Loy Butte Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336 | Website
Near Sedona, Arizona, in Coconino National Forest, is one of the largest cliff dwelling ruins in the Red Rock country. The cliff dwelling and rock art site have told much about the people who formerly occupied these dwellings.
They were ancestors of the Hopi people and they spent their time hunting, raising crops and families, and making tools.
These industrious people left behind some must see ruins! There are hiking and ATV trails throughout the park, and a visitors center with all the information you need in order to enjoy this awesome ruins site.
#11 Canyon de Chelly National Park
Chinle, AZ | Website
Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona is a gorgeous canyon that was formerly home to cave dwelling Native Americans.
This canyon ws their home for thousands of years, and offered them protection from the harsh Arizona desert elements, and also provided them fertile farmland in which they grew crops.
Although they are long since gone, there remains much evidence of their existence to this day, including petroglyphs on some of the cave walls!
Of course, there is a very informative welcome center that has maps, souvenirs, and helpful info for your adventure.
#12 Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
1100 W Ruins Dr, Coolidge, AZ 85128 | Website
This national monument has not only the preserved ruins of the “Great House,” but also the extensive system of irrigation canals that made agriculture in the desert possible!
The Sonoran people who lived here successfully farmed the Sonoran Desert in a time long before modern agricultural advancements and practices.
Located in Coolidge, Arizona, these ruins can be seen from outside, but public entry is prohibited.
This is largely due to the population of bats and other animals that have found shelter and made their home in the ruins, and the fact that by now, the walls of Casa Grande are not as structurally sound as they once were.
#13 Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park
4619 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034 | Website
Head over to Phoenix, Arizona to check out the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. Hike the trails and see the irrigation canals, the Native American burial mounds, as well as the ballcourt arena.
Inside the museum, you can learn all about the indigenous people groups who once inhabited what is now Phoenix, and how archaeologists discovered the ruins, and learned so much about the culture of these Native Americans.
There are lots of exhibits in the museum geared specifically toward children, so this is a great family friendly activity with plenty of things to see and do for all ages!
#14 Agua Fria National Monument
Black Canyon City, AZ 85324 | Website
The Agua Fria National Monument is home to hundreds of interesting archaeological wonders, one of the most notable being the Pueblo La Plata. This easily accessible pueblo was once upon a time a village which consisted of over eighty rooms.
It is estimated that several thousand Native Americans once inhabited the area in and around Pueblo La Plata. From the remains of this inhabitation, there is a beautiful view of the canyon which was cut by the Agua Fria River.
This national monument is located forty miles north of downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
#15 Roger’s Canyon Cave Ruin
Roger’s Canyon Trail | Website
Located between Phoenix and Globe, the Superstitious Wilderness is home to the Roger’s Canyon cliff dwelling ruins.
It is believed that almost nine hundred years ago, this cave dwelling was made up of over sixty different rooms and had a capacity of one hundred people!
Much of the original structure has been broken down over time, but it remains one of the most well preserved cave dwellings in the area. The ruins are found in a series of caves in the side of the cliff, all of which are fully open to the public!
#16 Tonto National Monument
26260 AZ-188, Roosevelt, AZ 85545 | Website
Seven hundred years ago in what is now known as Roosevelt, Arizona, the Salado Phenomena combined several different Native American cultures into one single society.
The Tonto National Monument exists to preserve two different Salado cliff dwellings, both of which have remained in great shape to this day.
The Upper Cliff Dwelling has a whopping eighty rooms, while the Lower Cliff Dwelling has a more modest forty rooms. It is believed that each room could have been home to a single family, and each room had a fire pit.
You can still see the smoke stains on the walls and ceilings from the cooking fires that were left there all these years later!
#17 Palatki Cliff Dwelling
10290 North Forest Service Road #795, Sedona, AZ | Website
Near Sedona, Arizona, the Palatki Cliff Dwelling ruins are a sister location to the Honanki Heritage Site. Palatki Cliff Dwellings in the Coconino National Forest can be accessed by trail, and are open to the public. There are two other notable trails worth mentioning as well, as one of them takes you to an overlook of the ruins, and the other boasts Native American pictographs! None of these trails are difficult to hike, but they are not wheelchair or stroller accessible. This park does ask that you call ahead to make reservations for your trip, as space and parking are very limited!
#18 Fortaleza Indian Ruins
Quilotosa Wash | Website
Spanish for “Fort on a Hilltop,” the Fortaleza Ruins are located very near the town of Gila Bend, Arizona. This former dwelling place of the Hohokam people could be easily defended because of its strategic positioning.
It is believed to at one time have been made up of sixty or more individual rooms, many of which you can still see today.
As you hike to the site, there are a number of different petroglyphs to see on the rocks. These petroglyphs have amazingly survived the elements for nearly one thousand years and are still visible!
#19 White Mountains Area Ruins
Gila County, Arizona | Website
The town of Springerville, Arizona is home to both Casa Malpais Archaeological Park and the White Mountains Archaeological Center. At the White Mountains Archaeological Center, you can participate in an active dig site! The Raven Site Ruins is said to have been made up of eight hundred rooms and is currently being excavated.
#20 Apache Death Cave
2 Guns, Winslow, AZ 86047 | Website
In the beautiful town of Winslow, Arizona there is a series of natural caverns called the Apache Death Cave. These caves span several miles beneath the sandstone, and in which, many Native American Artifacts have been discovered.
This cave is surrounded by legends and myths, probably because it is in a ghost town. That being said, there are no tours of this cave. Enter at your own risk! There is no shortage of rattlesnakes to be found in the caves of Arizona, especially the ones that are not frequently traveled by humans!
#21 Sierra Ancha National Wilderness
Gila County, AZ | Website
Come tour the cliff dwellings at Sierra Ancha National Wilderness in Young, Arizona. These dwellings were constructed of slabs of stone, and also bricks laid in mortar, and floors and roofs made from heavy timbers and grass and limbs covered by mud.
They are truly an architectural marvel. There are many hiking trails to enjoy at the park, as well as camping and fishing!