Palatki Heritage Site, Sedona, Arizona
Meandering Life Rating: (5 / 5)
Palatki Heritage Site is located in the Coconino National Forest near Sedona, Arizona. It is the site of a cliff dwelling used by the Sinagua people between AD 1150-1350. This is by far the oldest historical site we have ever seen. The dwelling is well preserved because of the Sinagua’s excellent choice for its location. Location, location, location! It is protected from rain due to the cliffs and its location is rough terrain making it harder for enemies to penetrate. The cliffs also made the rooms a bit more comfy in regards to temperature and gave them one less wall to build. They had a water collection system and a building that held their crops. They were very cognizant of their footprint on the environment and did their best to preserve the area and use as few resources as possible to survive. We could learn a lot from them! To tour the site, you do need a reservation as they only allow so many people on the site at once. There is a volunteer at the top of the dwelling who tells you all about the history of the dwelling and how it was used by the Sinagua people. There are even circular shield-like pictographs near the dwelling that some archaeologists believe are clan symbols. A really humbling, amazing experience for sure.
A short hike down the trail from the dwelling is a collection of pictographs and petroglyphs that were created by the Sinagua and there are others much older. In fact, some are estimated to be 5,000 to 6,000 years old!! Wow! There is another volunteer at that site too that gives you a great synopsis of the history. What I found most fascinating was trying to decipher the images. We are guessing as to what they mean and why they chose that area. Sure, some of them are easy to decipher, but others are up for interpretation. I wondered if some of them was just someone doodling. Lol! An amazing experience to say the least. Highly recommend!
Montezuma Castle National Monument and Well, Camp Verde, AZ
Meandering Life Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The Montezuma Castle National Monument is another Sinagua people cliff dwelling. Again, it is well preserved due to the location. The dwelling is a 20-room high-rise apartment nestled into a towering limestone cliff that was used between 1100 and 1425 AD. The public cannot enter the dwelling, so you can only see it from the ground. Amazing to see the construction ingenuity of the Sinagua people.
Eleven miles to the North of the Castle is the Montezuma Well. The well contains a few smaller cliff dwellings, but the best part of this site is the well and irrigation ditch. The well receives a constant supply of water with over 1.5 million gallons flowing every day. The water flows through the limestone and emerges into an irrigation ditch built over 1,000 years ago that is still used today. It is easy to see why this area was important to the Sinagua people. An amazing trip back in time!
There were a few other ancient sites in the area, Honanki cliff dwellings, Tuzigoot National Monument and the V-Bar-V Petroglyph Site that unfortunately we were unable to visit. The brief government shut-down slowed us down, but thankfully they opened long enough for us to see these amazing sites!