Agua Fria

National Monument


Created: January 11, 2000

70,900 acres of public land


Official Site:


I've actually driven through the center of this monument on I-17, but it was very dark and I didn't know it was there at the time...

Agua Fria National Monument Proclamation

The windswept, grassy mesas and formidable canyons of Agua Fria National Monument

embrace an extraordinary array of scientific and historic resources. The ancient ruins

within the monument, with their breathtaking vistas and spectacular petroglyphs, provide

a link to the past, offering insights into the lives of the peoples who once inhabited this

part of the desert Southwest. The area's architectural features and artifacts are tangible

objects that can help researchers reconstruct the human past. Such objects and, more

importantly, the spatial relationships among them, provide outstanding opportunities for

archeologists to study the way humans interacted with one another, neighboring groups,

and with the environment that sustained them in prehistoric times.

The monument contains one of the most significant systems of late prehistoric sites in

the American Southwest. Between A.D. 1250 and 1450, its pueblo communities were

populated by up to several thousand people. During this time, many dwelling locations in

the Southwest were abandoned and groups became aggregated in a relatively small

number of densely populated areas. The monument encompasses one of the best

examples of these areas, containing important archeological evidence that is crucial to

understanding the cultural, social, and economic processes that accompanied this period

of significant change.

At least 450 prehistoric sites are known to exist within the monument and there are likely

many more. There are at least four major settlements within the area, including Pueblo

La Plata, Pueblo Pato, the Baby Canyon Ruin group, and the Lousy Canyon group. These

consist of clusters of stone-masonry pueblos, some containing at least 100 rooms. These

settlements are typically situated at the edges of steep canyons, and offer a panorama of

ruins, distinctive rock art panels, and visually spectacular settings.

Many intact petroglyph sites within the monument contain rock art symbols pecked into

the surfaces of boulders and cliff faces. The sites range from single designs on boulders

to cliffs covered with hundreds of geometric and abstract symbols. Some of the most

impressive sites are associated with major pueblos, such as Pueblo Pato.

The monument holds an extraordinary record of prehistoric agricultural features,

including extensive terraces bounded by lines of rocks and other types of landscape

modifications. The agricultural areas, as well as other sites, reflect the skills of ancient

residents at producing and obtaining food supplies sufficient to sustain a population of

several thousand people.

The monument also contains historic sites representing early Anglo-American history

through the 19th century, including remnants of Basque sheep camps, historic mining

features, and military activities.

In addition to its rich record of human history, the monument contains other objects of

scientific interest. This expansive mosaic of semi-desert grassland, cut by ribbons of

valuable riparian forest, is an outstanding biological resource. The diversity of vegetative

communities, topographical features, and relative availability of water provide habitat for

a wide array of sensitive wildlife species, including the lowland leopard frog, the Mexican

garter snake, the common black hawk, and the desert tortoise. Other wildlife is abundant

and diverse, including pronghorn, mule deer, and white-tail deer. Javelina, mountain

lions, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and neotropical migratory birds also

inhabit the area. Elk and black bear are present, but less abundant. Four species of

native fish, including the longfin dace, the Gila mountain sucker, the Gila chub, and the

speckled dace, exist in the Agua Fria River and its tributaries.

Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431) authorizes the

President, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic

and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are

situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to

be national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of

which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care

and management of the objects to be protected.

WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the public interest to reserve such lands as a

national monument to be known as the Agua Fria National Monument:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by

the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16

U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby set apart and reserved as the Agua Fria

National Monument, for the purpose of protecting the objects identified above, all lands

and interests in lands owned or controlled by the United States within the boundaries of

the area described on the map entitled "Agua Fria National Monument" attached to and

forming a part of this proclamation. The Federal land and interests in land reserved

consist of approximately 71,100 acres, which is the smallest area compatible with the

proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

For the purpose of protecting the objects identified above, all motorized and mechanized

vehicle use off road will be prohibited, except for emergency or authorized administrative


Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish the jurisdiction of the

State of Arizona with respect to fish and wildlife management.

The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing rights.

All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this monument are

hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale,

leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws, including but not limited to

withdrawal from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition

under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that

furthers the protective purposes of the monument. Lands and interests in lands within

the proposed monument not owned by the United States shall be reserved as a part of

the monument upon acquisition of title thereto by the United States.

There is hereby reserved, as of the date of this proclamation and subject to valid existing

rights, a quantity of water sufficient to fulfill the purposes for which this monument is

established. Nothing in this reservation shall be construed as a relinquishment or

reduction of any water use or rights reserved or appropriated by the United States on or

before the date of this proclamation.

The Secretary of the Interior shall manage the monument through the Bureau of Land

Management, pursuant to applicable legal authorities, to implement the purposes of this


Laws, regulations, and policies followed by the Bureau of Land Management in issuing

and administering grazing leases on all lands under its jurisdiction shall continue to apply

with regard to the lands in the monument.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing withdrawal,

reservation, or appropriation; however, the national monument shall be the dominant


Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy,

or remove any feature of this monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of January, in the

year of our Lord two thousand, and of the Independence of the United States of America

the two hundred and twenty-fourth.