Exploring Our Area: Casa Grande National Monument

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That was a long, hot summer! Our active boys have literally been bouncing off the walls. If you are like us, you have been eager to begin some outdoor adventures. As soon as the temperatures dropped, we made a visit to Casa Grande National Monument. Just a short drive from the Phoenix area, it is an easy, part-day outing. When we arrived, we told the Park Ranger about our interest in the Junior Ranger program. He gave us a booklet and explained the age-range activity requirements.

The monument features ancient remains of Hohokam period structures, evidence of their life there, and examples of indigenous plants and wildlife. Though the Casa Grande or “big house” structure is too fragile for interior tours, there is a “secret room” in an adjacent structure you can enter. Getting inside was a challenge for the adults, but the kids thought it was exciting to crouch through a small passageway.

 

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We wondered about the purpose of the room and marveled at the how hard-working this ancient farming community must have been in such a harsh landscape.

The Junior Ranger activities helped answer our boys’ many questions about desert life and understand some of the history of our area. The booklet was a kind of self-guide that helped us learn more from the museum, film and ruins. Our family with three little prospective Junior Rangers needed about an hour to explore the monument and complete the activities. When they finished, the Ranger led the boys in an informal oath and awarded them their badges, which they wore proudly.

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We enjoyed the experience so much, we chose to purchase an $80 annual pass so we could visit more national parks and monuments. Anyone can visit NPS sites on the ten fee-free days in 2017. Also, fourth-grade students can claim an annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program.

Before you go:

  • For little kids (like mine), bring pencils, snacks and water. For future visits, we are assembling a pack with a clipboard, binoculars and picture guides of local plants and animals. We picked up Mac’s Field
  • Guides in the gift shop to help us identify cacti and reptiles.
  • Don’t forget your camera! My kids are developing an interest in photography, so we have them take some snaps with an old digital camera. If you are posting on social media, here are some handy hashtags: #findyourpark #everykidinapark #nps100.
  • Stamp the Junior Ranger booklet and consider getting a passport book to collect stamps in future national park visits. We did and it is exciting to see where we have been.

 

Find more information here:

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Junior Ranger Program at Casa Grande Ruins 

Kid + National Parks

2017 Free Admission Days to Our National Parks

 

 

 

Jodee is a full-time mom to three playful boys. She was raised in the desert, educated in the Rocky Mountains, and the lived in Midwest before returning to the “dry heat.” She is passionate about learning, culture, and nature. When she isn’t shuttling her boys from school to activities, she is either planning out their next family adventure or playing Duolingo to avoid folding laundry. She dreams of visiting all of the National Parks with her family and to finding the cure for homework battles. You can peek into her life and family outings on Instagram @thatsmoxie.

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53 Comments

  • Reply Michelle Russo

    A great day trip and boys lover the exploration of it all. Casa Grande is easy to get to

    December 7, 2016 at 5:30 am
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Yes! Perfect day trip! And you are right, there is so much to explore! Some of the wall the kids can touch and go through! It really is interactive learning at its finest! We are going again over winter break!

      December 7, 2016 at 5:32 am
    • Reply Jodee

      You’re right! I was a little surprised by how quickly we arrived. I could have gone so much sooner. Thank you for your comment!

      December 9, 2016 at 5:54 pm
  • Reply Valerie Arnold

    Never knew about this cool place in Casa Grande. Now we have somewhere to go explore.

    December 7, 2016 at 5:33 am
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Valerie! You just made the author Jodee H. and me SO happy! We love sharing cool spots that are great for kids/families and our hearts soar when one of our amazing Active Moms like you find somewhere new to explore! Casa Grande Ruins National Monument really is a treasure. Kids can go through the adobe walls, touch some of them – it is just so amazing. And not too far of a drive – perfect day trip for our mild winter weather. It is on our list for this winter break. When you go, be sure to tag us so we can see!

      December 7, 2016 at 5:37 am
    • Reply Jodee

      I know I appreciate a good tip for family fun. I’m glad I can share. I hope you have a great visit!

      December 9, 2016 at 5:55 pm
  • Reply Alexandra Ashley

    I know where we’ll be going 😊

    December 7, 2016 at 6:08 am
  • Reply Niki

    Never knew about this place! My son would love it!

    December 7, 2016 at 6:08 am
  • Reply Carrie

    Sounds so fun!

    December 7, 2016 at 6:24 am
  • Reply Kate Gookin

    Never been here! Loved Montezuma’s castle, so I bet we would love this too! Adding it to the list!

    December 7, 2016 at 6:35 am
    • Reply Jodee

      We enjoyed Montezuma’s Castle, too! This one is much closer. I hope you enjoy your visit just as much.

      December 9, 2016 at 5:56 pm
  • Reply Alexa H.

    Our family loves the outdoors and exploring new places! What a neat way to not only let my two boys explore, but it’s also an educational opportunity to teach them a little about history and Indian ruins. It sounds like a great adventure!

    December 7, 2016 at 1:25 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      You have got it exactly! Tag us in your photos when you go – we’d love to see! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else!

      December 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm
    • Reply Jodee

      We feel the same! I hope you get to enjoy a visit & the Junior Ranger program, too.

      December 9, 2016 at 5:59 pm
  • Reply Maureen

    Yes, I would love to visit this place, thank you for sharing!!!

    December 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply Valerie Gardner

    Totally looks like fun to check out!

    December 7, 2016 at 2:09 pm
  • Reply cc solson

    thank you for the details and ideas! I have been reticent to go as uncertain that there would be much there for my kids to do. Very grateful for your review and before you go tips!

    December 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Yes! Our contributor Jodee H. is an expert on amazing places in our state and we are happy to have her sage advice to make these amazing day trip easier and more fun! Stay tuned for lots more and you are so welcome! Thanks for connecting with Active Moms 🙂

      December 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm
  • Reply Ellen Markley

    A fun day trip with relatives from out of state or with the kids.

    December 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Definitely! Perfect way to spend a winter break day with the kids and an amazing place to show off to folks from out of state. You can get some pretty amazing photos too! Tag us when you go – we’d love to see all your photos! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else.

      December 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm
    • Reply Jodee

      We are going to take our holiday guests, too. I love that it gives so much information about Arizona history and is for all ages.

      December 9, 2016 at 6:05 pm
  • Reply Heidi

    This has been on our bucket list for years!! I keep hearing about it and saying we’re going to go and we haven’t made it happen yet. I bet we can use this for my son’s cub scouts requirements!

    December 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Yes! I can’t even explain in words how amazing this National Monument is – and not too far out of town either! There are places that the kids can actually go in and touch – a giant bonus in my book! Let us know about the scout requirements – we’ll share with our readers. And tag us in your photos when you go – we love to see! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else.

      December 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm
    • Reply Jodee

      We thought about it for a couple of years, too. If you are like us, you will be surprised at how near and doable this National Monument really is. Junior Ranger is just perfect for Cubs! They will rock it!

      December 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm
  • Reply PAola Iniesta

    Cool historic and cultural place to visit

    December 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Agreed! We go every year!

      December 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm
  • Reply Melissa

    During Winter break I love to do things like this!!! Thank you for showing us how cool this is!

    December 7, 2016 at 2:52 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      You are so welcome! Our awesome Active Moms contributor Jodee H. is an expert at finding amazing places like this for Moms to take their kids – she has three boys and is always on the go to fab spots for learning, playing, exploring and having fun! Stay tuned for more pieces on National Parks + more!

      December 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm
    • Reply Jodee

      Winter break is a great time! The cost is really low, so no need to wait for the free days.

      December 9, 2016 at 6:11 pm
  • Reply Pawiz Fernandez

    We’ll definitely be going to this place, this is part of why we love Active Moms, thank you for the info!

    December 7, 2016 at 2:54 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      You are so welcome! We love our readers 🙂 Be sure to tag us in your photos – we love to see! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else

      December 7, 2016 at 5:29 pm
  • Reply Cheryl Mercado

    This looks like a great place to go!

    December 7, 2016 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply Amanda Tingle

    Yes! I am one of those people that when I travel and I have the time I research the area and find the neat historical places to visit.

    December 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Then this is the perfect place for you! Tag us in your photos if you go – we’d love to see! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else

      December 7, 2016 at 5:26 pm
  • Reply Heather Calandro

    This place is great. And definitely gives you a feel of our rich history

    December 7, 2016 at 4:37 pm
    • Reply Jodee

      It really is ! A national treasure.

      December 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm
  • Reply Marta

    I keep saying we need to go here =)

    December 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      And you are right! Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is an easy day trip and so worth it! The reason I love it so much is that unlike many places, you can actually go in and touch parts (not all) of this park. There is lots to explore and tons of great photo ops too. Totally worth a trip. Here is a list of the free park days for 2017 – no admission fees! The park will be a more crowded than usual on these days so arrive early and be prepared for lots of folks 🙂 Free Admission Days National Parks There are 10 in all!

      December 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm
  • Reply Kathy burlend

    This looks so fun. Something close & different to do with my boys!

    December 7, 2016 at 6:50 pm
  • Reply Shayne wooden

    Would love to take my kids here sometime!!

    December 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm
  • Reply Danielle R

    Have thought about going here. Maybe next time we are down that direction I make a point to go.

    December 7, 2016 at 8:50 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Yes! It is for sure worth the visit!

      December 7, 2016 at 11:02 pm
  • Reply Joe Macaluso

    It’s amazing the places we have in Arizona to visit, that are within reach for a family to get to. Can’t wait to visit this amazing place.

    December 8, 2016 at 1:28 am
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      I agree! Have you ever been to Walnut Canyon National Monument outside of Flagstaff? It is awesome just like Casa Grande! You can go in the dwellings where ancient peoples lived! And the hike down the canyon is so gorgeous! Tag us in your photos when you go – we love to see! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else!

      December 8, 2016 at 1:41 am
  • Reply Lisa N.

    We definitely want to do this! On our summer vacation last year our kids started the Junior Ranger Program by completing the requirements at Carlsbad Caverns and the Painted Desert. In the spring, on our way to Sedona, we stopped my Montezuma’s Castle & Well so they could earn their badge there. They are excited to earn more badges and it’s nice there are places not too far away!

    December 8, 2016 at 4:28 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Yes! This is a wonderful close one! Sounds like you’ve had many wonderful National Parks adventures already! Awesome! So cool that you are doing the Junior Ranger program with your kids – those are the kinds of things that kids remember their whole lives! Love it! I went to Carlsbad Caverns as a child but haven’t taken my kids – would you recommend it? We LOVE Montezuma’s Castle and Well. Have you been to Walnut Canyon National Monument outside of Flagstaff? That and Cabrillo National Monument are our very favorites! Tag us in your photos when you visit next – we love to see! We are @activemomsblog on IG and @activemoms everywhere else.

      December 8, 2016 at 4:48 pm
  • Reply Kyrie

    Definitely putting this on my list of places to visit! My kids loved the similar Wupatki ruins

    December 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Your family and mine both! We LOVED Wupatki! How does that cold air always flow out of that hole in the ground? We are still puzzling. Plus – those rooms you can actually go in! That is my favorite – places where the kids can go in and walk around. We are so fortunate in AZ to have Wupatki, Casa Grande Ruins and Walnut Canyon – have you been there? Outside of Flagstaff? Another must do!

      December 9, 2016 at 10:19 pm
  • Reply Heather W

    This looks like so much fun! We have enjoyed seeing some of the wall dwellings up north and am sure my kiddos would love to see this. We are always looking for fun family outings together that are a bit outside the box. This looks like an awesome fun family, educational opportunity! Thank you for letting me know about this place!

    December 9, 2016 at 8:31 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      You are so welcome! We have not been to a National Park or Monument yet that the whole family didn’t enjoy 🙂 We are so lucky in AZ to have more that 20 National Parks (the number is based on the National Park service units).

      We have 3 officially designated National Parks
      Grand Canyon
      Petrified Forest
      Sagauro

      Arizona is also home to 45 National Historic Landmarks, 14 National Monuments and 10 National Natural Landmarks. I’m thinking I will make a check list of all of them with links for all our wonderful Active Moms and families. Maybe include a printable pdf so everyone can keep track 🙂

      December 9, 2016 at 10:16 pm
  • Reply Amanda Tingle

    Yes. As my kids get older I want them to get out more and see things that people actually built and not spend so much time watching tv and playing video games

    December 14, 2016 at 6:05 pm
    • Reply Katrina Sherk

      Yes! And this is one of the really cool outdoor places/spaces where they can go in and touch things it’s super fun! Cassa grand Rounds is not too far away either it’s a day trip for sure. right now is perfect weather for the zoo too and we’re giving away tickets to zoo lights have you entered yet?

      December 14, 2016 at 6:26 pm
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