Tonto National Monument is in the Superstition Mountains of central Arizona. The area lies on the northeastern edge of the Sonoran Desert ecoregion, an arid habitat with annual rainfall of about 16 inches. The Salt River runs through this area, providing a rare, year-round source of water.
There are well-preserved cliff dwellings that were occupied by the Salado culture during the 13th-early 15th centuries. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley, and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native plants. The Salado were fine craftspeople, producing some of the most flamboyant pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest.
The Upper Sonoran ecosystem is known for its characteristic saguaro cacti. Other common plants include: cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, and barrel cactus (flowering from April to June); yucca, sotol, and agave; creosote bush and ocotillo; palo verde and mesquite trees; an amazing variety of colorful wild flowers in good years (February to March); and a lush riparian area which supports large Arizona Walnut, Arizona Sycamore, and hackberry trees.
It also serves as a home for native animals such as whitetail and mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, three rattlesnake species and many more.