Beauty in the Mundane  LbNA # 61804

Placed DateMay 20 2012
LocationCatalina State Park, Tucson, AZ
Found By Kurious Jo
Last Found Jan 15 2015
Hike Distance1 mi
Last EditedSep 14 2015

The Catalina State Park area appears to have been continuously occupied from at least the Middle Archaic period (5000-1000 BC). Prehistoric farming, small habitation, and pueblo sites constructed of rock and adobe can be found throughout the area. The Romero Ruin is an example of a Hohokam pueblo with associated ball court. Archaeological evidence from petroglyphs and ceramics indicates they played a game here between 750 and 1000 with a ball made of guayule sap. The earliest date for its occupation is 550-600 AD. The ruin was extensively occupied between 1000-1100 AD and then abandoned sometime between 1300-1450 AD.

The historic structures at the Romero Ruin are the remains of a ranch built by Francisco Romero in the mid- to late-1800s. Although it is reported that Romero built the wall enclosing his living structures as protection against Apache raiders, it is likely that he just improved upon the existing Hohokam compound wall. In addition, Romero probably robbed cobbles from the Hohokam structures to build his house.

The ruins are a result of three periods of archaeological activity: 1987, when surface features were mapped and artifacts and pottery collected; 1990, when the present interpretive trail was planned and data were collected from burial sites; and finally 1993, when wall segments were exposed by excavation, and trash mounds were examined.

Thirty-three other archeological sites have been discovered within what is now the park boundaries. In 1940, a hiker stumbled upon a cavity about 3 miles from Romero Ruins that contained a treasure of Hohokam artifacts.

The cache held an olla (ceramic jar) containing about 100,000 stone and shell beads, as well as 30 copper balls. Twenty years later, midway between the village and the olla cache, a canyon containing petroglyphs was discovered. It was located near "tinjas," natural water catchment basins that were of practical and spiritual importance to the Hohokam.

Cross the street from the parking lot area following the sign that says Romero Ruins Trail. The trail immediately crosses the wide, sandy Sutherland Wash. Follow the sign for the Romero Ruins Trail. A wooden stairway leads you up probably about 100 feet to a bench where you can rest and enjoy a view of the Catalina Mountains and behind a view of the Sutherland Wash. The 1/3 mile loop portion of the hike begins here and takes you on your journey back in time to when these houses were homes.

disclaimer: why didn't I plant this up closer to the ruins. I didn't because it is an archeological area and felt it wrong to do so. It's currently location is close enough to be relative, but not so close as to mess up anything.

As you descend back to the present, pause after recrossing the wash to admire a lovely ancient tree on your right. The bend of its body seems to entice one to climb or explore it. I checked it out, no treasure seems to be there other than the treasure of the tree itself. On your left is the ghost of one that was on its way to being as grand as its cousin, yet bears life no more. For you, right is wrong and left is right.

Follow the trail approximately 260 paces (2-step). At about 25 steps before a faint trail heads off south by southeast, a branch or small tree has blocked one path and a second has been created to take its place. Take this faint trail until you are nearly dropped into a sand river with a great wall on the other side.

The eastern side of a china berry tree watches your next move from about 10 steps away. It wonders, will you find the hidden household artifacts, the beauty that can be seen in the mundane.

History extracted from various sites
Romero Ruins Trail from parking lot to ruins and back is about .75 miles.
To the box and back to the trail marker is about .75 miles for a total of 1.5 miles.
Trail is flat except for the initial climb up the wooden stairs to the Romero Ruins loop trail.

Great place for hiking; I wonder if there is any other treasure out here?

All standard desert warnings apply; beware of things that bite, poke, or sting.