What an AMAZING way to spend my birthday! We visited Tuzigoot National Monument and Palatki Heritage Site.
We visited Tuzigoot first…it’s about 8 – 10 miles west of Cottonwood, Arizona making it about a 25 mile drive from our park. Tuzigoot is an ancient pueblo that sits atop a desert hilltop that was built by the Sinagua people. The first buildings of the pueblo/village are thought to be built about 1000 AD and the people left the area about 1400 AD. There are 97 rooms in Tuzigoot and each room was about 10×10 in size with 1 family living in each room. Entrance into each room was through the ceiling, possibly for protection.
There’s a small museum in the visitor’s center where there are several displays of artifacts that were found at Tuzigoot when it was excavated in the 1930s or so. I find it so amazing that the items on display are HUNDREDS of years old…some nearly 1000!
We had a 1:00 pm appointment for a tour at Palatki and we had about a 20-25 mile drive with the last 7 miles being dirt roads. The drive along the dirt road was so cool, beautiful, interesting… It’s in the Coconino National Forest and as we drove we noticed people camping (RVs, tents) off the road. We later learned that there’s free camping (anywhere you find a spot) for up to 2 weeks…no hook ups though.
We got to Palatki about 50 minutes before our scheduled tour so we utilized the picnic tables outside the office and enjoyed our lunch surrounded in the beauty of the Red Rocks.
Palatki is another set up cliff dwellings that belonged to the Sinaqua people, dating back to about 1100 AD. We followed a path over and through fallen red rocks to the ruin site, on the side of the red rock cliffs and were once again treated to the remnants of ancient architecture. The volunteer stationed here gave us lots of information about the people who once lived here and pointed out several interesting points of interest.
We headed back down the path we came up and past the office and up another path to the site of gallery of pictographs. Pictographs are ancient paintings on the walls of caves. There are so many paintings here and they date from several different periods. It seems that when one group of people made paintings and left the next group didn’t want to be out done so they made paintings and then the next group that came along did the same and so on.
While at Palatki we fell in love with the area and talked to all of the volunteers that were there today and found out about volunteering opportunities at the site. We emailed the ranger in charge of the site and will let you know what comes of it.
When we left Palatki we headed east toward Sedona. We made a couple of Munzee stops along the way but didn’t stop in Sedona at all. Seems like a big touristy area and that isn’t usually our thing. If we’re back in the area to volunteer next year we’ll probably take some time to walks the streets of Sedona…but today it wasn’t on the agenda.
Heading south on 179 (Red Rock Scenic Byway) out of Sedona we enjoyed the views of the gorgeous red rocks along the way. About half way through the byway we stopped in the village of Oak Creek for dinner at the Red Chopstick. We both decided it was one of the best Chinese restaurants we’ve been to in a long time. The atmosphere, as well as the food made the entire meal exceptional.
We capped a few more Munzee’s while in Oak Creek before finishing the drive down the byway. We got home about 7:00 pm – giving us plenty of time to wind down and relax (watching a few episodes of the Walking Dead) before calling it a night.
One thing I wanted to mention was about the National Parks Annual Pass. We purchased one back in December for $80 and it’s good for a year. It entitles you to free admittance into all National Parks and federal lands. Just since we’ve been in this area we’ve saved $30 alone on entrance fees. If you don’t have one…get one! There’s also an Senior (over 62) pass that is $10 for your lifetime. Also, for military, you get the annual pass for FREE! Oh yeah…and the Access pass…for the disabled is FREE too!