Sun shield over the Casa Grande ruins.

Casa Grande Ruins

Field review by the editors.

Coolidge, Arizona

As is implied by Casa Grande's rather vague assigned name ("Great House"), not even the Spanish had a very clear idea of what it was or why it was built. Modern-day pseudo-scientists speculate that it was an ancient astronomical observatory, but all that's known for sure is that Casa Grande is a big, brown, Indian ruin.

It was a lot of trouble for the Sonoran Desert people to assemble the materials and construct the enigmatic structure, which they did around 1300 AD, just before a severe period of depopulation vacated the region.

Standing in the middle of nowhere, this crumbling, four-story mud skyscraper has always attracted fans of architectural decay. It was the first prehistoric site protected by the U.S. government, back in 1892. What brings Casa Grande into the Roadside realm is the gargantuan steel umbrella that towers over it, built in 1932 by the government to shield it from the sun (Casa Grande would have melted centuries ago if it rained here). The umbrella cost $28,000 to build; now it takes substantially more than that to paint it every year.

Informative tours around this and other satellite ruins are conducted hourly, although no one actually goes into the house, "due to safety and resource protection concerns," according to the National Park Service.

Whatever its original purpose, the ruins of Casa Grand are well-protected for future generations. For them, its most enduring historical mission may turn out to be as a tourist attraction.

Casa Grande Ruins

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Address:
1100 Ruins Drive, Coolidge, AZ
Directions:
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Off 87, marked by official signs. It's in Coolidge, not the town of Casa Grande.
Hours:
8 am - 5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
520-723-3172
Admission:
Admission or via National Park Pass.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Florence Prison Outlet StoreFlorence Prison Outlet Store, Florence, AZ - 10 mi.
Pork Shop Propane Tank PigPork Shop Propane Tank Pig, Queen Creek, AZ - 16 mi.
Lost Dutchman MonumentLost Dutchman Monument, Apache Junction, AZ - 29 mi.
In the region:
Long Wong's Wings, Phoenix, AZ - 44 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Arizona

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Arizona.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

July 1, 2015

My Sights

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Arizona Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Titanic: World's Largest Museum Attraction, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (Jun 29-Jul 5, 2015)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, Coolidge, Arizona

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now