Tuzigoot National Monument is the third leg of our journey to see the ancient ruins of the Verde Valley.
More Passport Stamps awaited me at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has been undergoing renovations since November 2010. It looked like they are putting the finishing touches on the landscaping when we were there. Some facilities are available and there were rangers to offer advice and information. The restrooms were open. Have you noticed a trend? With all the water we were being encouraged to drink we took advantage of restrooms when ever they were available!
Anyway, we were now at Tuzigoot which means “crooked water” in Apache.
As you leave the visitor center a paved path leads off to your left. Follow that path and you will find yourself climbing a small hill. Located on this hill are the remains of a Pueblo village attributed to the Southern Sinagua. The site has been dated to around 1125 and was occupied until the early 1400’s when, like so many Sinagua sites in the area, it was abandoned.
The original pueblo was 2 stories high in places containing 77 ground floor rooms. Entry, like at Montezuma’s Castle was by way of ladders through the roof. Originally the village was a small cluster of rooms housing about 50 people but by the 1200’s the population had doubled and then shortly after doubled again as drought in the outlying areas sent refugees looking for food and shelter.
It was fascinating to climb among the ruins, amazing to think that there are any remains after all these years.
We climbed to the top of the ridge to very topmost ruin and looked out over the Verde Valley.
In the west we could see the black slag pile in Clarkdale by the river.
If we looked very closely we could make out Jerome on the mountain side and Cottonwood.
There is a flat area across from the ruins that used to be where the tailings from the smelter were deposited. In 2007 a few feet of soil was spread in this area and seeds from native vegetation scattered. In time it is hoped the area will recover boasting mesquite and creosote bush.
To the south you can see the Verde River crossing the end of the ridgeline and turning south recognizable from our train ride.
Views of the North and East are of the surrounding ridges and mountains. Not familiar with that side I can’t really tell you what we were looking at but you could certainly get a long view of the surrounding land.
We took our time wandering through the ruins but soon it was time to turn our thoughts to the evening tour. Not exactly “off roading”, we were taking a ride up Schnebly Hill Rd, Sedona at sunset. We had to met our guide and driver between 5 & 5:15. The tour starts at 5:30 so it’s time to get going if we want to be on time.