About the Agua Fria National Monument

Stewarded by Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument

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Roughly 50 miles north of Phoenix and home to semi-desert grasslands, deep canyons and rich riparian areas, the Agua Fria National Monument also offers one of the most significant systems of late prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. Between A.D. 1250 and 1450, the region’s pueblo communities were populated by as many as 3,000 people. Agua Fria’s ancient sites—numbering over 400—offer insights into the lives of those who long ago inhabited this part of the desert Southwest.

Desert wildlife such as javelina, coyotes, bobcats, and pronghorn can be spotted in the Monument; longfin dace, speckled dace, Gila mountain suckers, and Gila chub swim in Agua Fria’s waters while hawks and eagles sail above its riparian corridors.

Cultural and Historic Resources

Pueblo La Plata, Badger Springs Wash, and the Agua Fria River reveal evidence of an ancient people with the remains of huge 100-room pueblos and vivid petroglyph panels. The Perry Mesa Tradition, a hunter-gatherer society of 2,000 years ago, left their legacy in Agua Fria in the form of at least 450 archaeological sites. The largest of these ancients settlements, the Pueblo la Plata, offers a view of the Agua Fria River from within its massive stonewalled buildings.


There is lots to see and do within the Agua Fria National Monument, depending on the season. Hiking, viewing cultural sites, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, hunting (big-game and upland game-bird), scenic drives, and four-wheel driving (off-road travel is not allowed) are just a sampling of activities visitors can enjoy.

There are no facilities within the monument. Undeveloped areas are available for camping with a 14 day limit. Local campgrounds and motels, along with grocery stores and gas stations, are located in the adjacent communities of Black Canyon City and Cordes Lakes.


From the blog

  • 10.10.13

    Closed Part 2- The Friends Grassroots Network Experiences the Impact of the Shutdown

    Since the shutdown, the Friends Grassroots Network has directly experienced the effects through the termination of all volunteer activities and events.  The government shutdown has also led to: the closure of visitor centers including Friends offices; cancelation of all recreational and education events; and serious economic impacts on gateway communities … read more

  • 08.24.11

    Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument to host Perry Mesa Symposium

    On Saturday, September 10, 2011, Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument is presenting an all day event called, “The Perry Mesa Symposium” in Phoenix, Arizona. The program brings together around twenty professional, avocational and student archaeologists to present the findings of recent studies of the prehistoric cultures on Perry … read more

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