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Exploring the Devils Chasm Ruins

The Sierra Ancha Wilderness is located about 100 miles east of Phoenix, between Globe and Young. Though fairly small at 32 square miles, it contains some of the most rugged and inaccessible terrain in Arizona.

Most of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness lies at an elevation of about 7000 feet. But along the eastern border, Cherry Creek has cut a substantial valley down to an elevation of 3000 to 3500 feet. The four thousand foot elevation change from the mesa top to the river results in a series of vertical-walled canyons cutting back into the mesa towards the west. Within these canyons, virtually any south-facing location with a protective overhang and sufficient building space contains a structure of some kind. Two of the most widely publicized sites - Devil's Chasm ruin and the Pueblo Canyon Group - are documented on the following pages.

The ruins of the Sierra Anchas present somewhat of a mystery to archeologists. From 500 to 950 AD the region stood at the boundary between three distinct traditions: the Mogollon to the east, the Hohokam to the west, and the Sinagua to the north. Then about 950 AD a new culture—the Salado—appeared, occupying a region almost 100 miles across with the Sierra Anchas near its center. Tree ring dating of timbers used in construction indicates that the Anchan ruins were built and occupied over a relatively short seventy year period, from 1280 to 1350, which would make them Salado in origin. However, certain elements of the architecture, tools and pottery show a strong Mogollon influence as well. Adding to the mystery is the fact that the ruins are constructed in extremely inaccessible locations, raising the possibility that defense against invasion was a strong motivation. It has been suggested that this may have been the remnants of an older or hybrid community that managed to cling to its traditions for some time after the surrounding area was occupied by the Salado. At the present time, archeologists simply refer to the inhabitants as the "Anchan Tradition."

*Information from*

Discover this 7.4-mile out-and-back trail filled with scenery and history. The route is known to be challenging and can take up to 5 hours to complete. This is a popular trail for birding and hiking! The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

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