On a beautiful, clear day we had the chance to drive Coolidge, AZ and visit the Casa Grande Ruins, a National Monument. This is the first time we have been able to visit a National Park (or monument since driving west. It took us about an hour and a half to get there. We packed a lunch and headed out around 10 am.
I found that it takes us a bit longer to get out the door living in the RV. We have four people sharing a very small bathroom. I guess I’m glad the girls aren’t teenagers yet. I’m thinking it would be that much harder to get out the door in a timely manner.
We arrived at the park, paid the admission fee ($5 per adult and children were free), and ate lunch. There were picnic tables with shelters and a gorgeous view.
After lunch, we read some of the information boards that described platform mounds still visible where Ancestral Sonoran Desert people once played games and traded their goods. As you look out from the picnic area you can also see mounds of dirt that have been placed over top of some of these platform mounds to help preserve them from the wind and weather. I read that technology is now allowing archeologists to visualize walls, structures and artifacts with the use of laser scans. Being able to visualize areas without digging helps protect the area from damage.
During this visit we had our first experience with the Junior Ranger program. We had heard great things about the programs the National Parks have and we were not disappointed. Each of my daughters received a Junior Ranger Program Exploration notebook. Each of them filled out the required pages by exploring the different displays. Once their allotted pages were filled out (8 pages for Juliette who is 8 years old and 11 pages for Jaelyn who is 11 years old) they received a Junior Ranger Badge. They loved it.
Through an interactive, interpretive program, video and displays we learned a lot about the ruins, the people that once lived there and the people who continue to live in the surrounding area. The Casa Grande, over 650 years old still stands in the desert. It was amazing.