Casa Malpais Indian Ruins

category : Archaeology
Casa Malpais, or "House of the Badlands", in the CASA MALPAIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK is surrounded by unusual beauty on a rim of volcanic rock overlooking the Little Colorado River's Round Valley. A breathtaking view of the White Mountains lies to the south.

The diminutive but strong mountain people who lived here are called the "Mogollon." This Pueblo IV site exhibits similarities in pottery and architecture to the Anasazi of the Four Corners region. The Mogollon, Sinagua, Anasazi, and Hohokam Indians were the primary tribes in the region from the 11th century to the 14th century. We know that Casa Malpais was occupied for about 200 years, and it was mysteriously abandoned about 1400 A.D.

A "living archaeology" program affords opportunities for participatory education in excavation and laboratory work in the museum. The museum and field laboratory are open for visitation, and guided tours are available by contacting the museum. Membership in the local chapter of the Casa Malpais Archaeology Society enables the member to participate in special activities. Other activities offered to visitors include special lectures by site and visiting archaeologists and historians.

Unique and unusual features characterize the National Historic site. The Great Kiva, painstakingly constructed of volcanic rock, is the centerpiece. A steep basalt staircase set into a crevice of the high red cliff wall leads to the top of the mesa.

From this vantage point, at an elevation of over 7,000 feet, you'll experience a dramatic overview of the entire pueblo. Natural fissures are located throughout the site. Evidence shows that these fissures were used for religious ceremonies as these people of the mountains struggled with the complexities of life and death in their harsh environment.

The Smithsonian Magazine wrote: "A new door opening in Anthropology." And from the New York Times: "Few sites of pre-Columbian life in North America explored in recent years have aroused so much curiosity and excitment..." Newsweek Magazine said: "If past digs are any guide, this one could prove invaluable for understanding the Southwest's Indians." And from the Dallas Morning News: "What may have been a prehistoric regional trading center is the Southwest's hottest archaeological project..."

The first visit to Casa Malpais by a professional anthropologist was in 1883, when Frank Cushing, an anthropologist living at Zuni, visited a site at "El Valle Redondo on the Colorado Chiquito", and was impressed by what he termed "the fissure type pueblo" he found there. In his journal he sketched dry masonry, bridging fissures, upon which the pueblo is constructed.

The Hopi and Zuni people claim an affinity to the site, and they are consulting with the museum and archaeologists to assure that our work is conducted with sensitivity toward Native American beliefs and customs. Some aspects of the site are closed to tours due to their sacred nature.

The museum is on Main Street in Springerville where the guided tours originate.

Admission: Entrance Fee
Hours: Museum Hours: 8 am - 4 pm, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Guided tours at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm.
Address: U.S. Hwy 60, Museum, 318 E. Main Street
Phone: 928-333-5375
Our Email:

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