2000: National Monument
About the SiteThis Monument contains one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. So says the Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for maintaining this site and developing a management plan. But if it's so significant, why wasn't it designated a National Monument before 2000? Anyway, at least 450 prehistoric sites are known to exist within the Monument boundaries. It also contains a diversity of vegetative communities, pristine riparian habitat, topographical features and a wide array of wildlife.
What You're Going to SeeThis is still pretty much an undeveloped area. It was only designated in 2000, and the BLM is still working on a management plan. Activities that were permitted on these public lands before 2000, like grazing and authorized rights-of-way are still allowed, except for new mining claims. There are no facilities on the site, except for an information kiosk just off the freeway.
Personal ObservationsWhen I visited Agua Fria earlier in 2004, it struck me as just another patch of desert. I grew up in this area, 40 miles to the south, and to my unscientific eye there's nothing special about this place. But I must admit I haven't explored it at all, and I haven't looked for any archaeological sites.
Getting ThereFrom Phoenix, take I-17 north (or from Flagstaff take I-17 south) about 40 miles to exit 259. The road east leads directly into the Monument.
Nearby AttractionsTonto National Monument is about 60 miles to the southeast. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is about 90 miles to the south, on the other side of Phoenix. Hohokam Pima National Monument is 30 miles southwest of Phoenix. Tuzigoot National Monument is about 40 miles to the north. Walnut Canyon National Monument is about 80 miles north and east, directly east of Flagstaff. Meteor Crater (not a National Monument) is about 80 miles northeast.