Visit Mesa Grande October 1 - May 15
1000 N. Date Street
(Corner of Date and 10th Streets)
Mesa, AZ 85201
Hours of operation:
||10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
||11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
||12 - 4 p.m.
Mesa Grande Visitor’s Center
Group rates and tours available with advance booking. Call Alice Jung at
The Hohokam, the ancestors of the Akimel O’odham (Pima), constructed the
Mesa Grande temple mound. With walls made from “caliche,” the calcium
carbonate hardpan that forms under our desert soils, the mound is longer and
wider than a modern football field and is 27 feet high. Construction of the
mound began by AD 1100 and continued to at least AD 1400. A large adobe wall
encloses the mound and a large plaza in front of the mound. In one corner of
the site, volunteers from the Arizona Museum of Natural History constructed
a replica of a Hohokam ballcourt, an open-air structure where ballgames were
played using a rubber ball made from a local plant.
One of two Hohokam “great mounds” in the Salt River Valley, the Mesa Grande
mound was a dramatic symbol of the power of this ancient community. The
village surrounding the mound once covered over one-half square mile and was
home to perhaps two thousand Hohokam. Situated near the headgates of one of
the two largest networks of irrigation canals created in the prehistoric New
World, the site of Mesa Grande controlled over 27,000 acres of highly
productive farmland. Today, the streets, homes and businesses of Mesa,
Arizona now cover most of the site. Preservation of the mound is due to the
community and volunteer efforts already cited, and to the foresight of the
City in acquiring the six-acre property.
The City of Mesa purchased the Mesa Grande ruins in the 1980s to preserve
Mesa’s premier cultural treasure and to open it to the public as an
educational and recreational facility. This project has had the enthusiastic
support of the community since 1927 when local citizens and the chamber of
commerce held a parade down Main Street to promote its development. More
recently, the Mesa Grande Neighborhood Alliance identified the development
of Mesa Grande as a heritage tourism destination as their number one
Mesa Grande is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Aerial photograph of the Mesa Grande platform mound
from the southwest.
Volunteers working at Mesa Grande.
Woodcut illustration of Mesa Grande by Bartlett in the 1850s and
published in his report, Ruins on the Salinas. The Salt
(Salinas) River is marked by the line of trees in the middle distance.
The Lewis family, in front of the mound at Mesa Grande in 1904, carried
out excavations to see what was inside. They found a series of thick
Artist Craig Chepley worked with archaeologists to illustrate how Mesa
Grande may have looked in AD 1350, looking west. Note the Hohokam ballcourt
in the lower right corner of the mural.