Located in Arizona’s sunny Verde Valley about 50 miles south of Flagstaff, Tuzigoot National Monument is one of the best-preserved hilltop pueblos in the Southwest. These ruins were once the home of the prehistoric Southern Sinaguan Indians, which is Spanish for “without water.” This 110-room pueblo sits atop a long limestone ridge 150 feet above the Verde River floodplain, and provides a panoramic view across the scenic Verde Valley.
Scientists estimate that these dwellings were used for only about three centuries before the Sinaguans suddenly deserted the area in the early 1400s. Were the ancient residents driven out by enemies? Did they die of disease? Deplete their natural resources? Or perhaps they didn’t really disappear, they just simply migrated somewhere else? We may never know for sure, but the mystery of it all makes these thousand-year-old stone dwellings even more intriguing and remarkable.
Tuzigoot is an Apache word that means “crooked water” and also aptly describes the zigzag appearance of what’s left of the structure’s walls. Although the stones are original, the park service has reinforced some of the crumbling mortar with cement. To see the entire pueblo, climb the circular trail that winds up the hill from the Museum and Visitor Center. What’s especially good about these ruins is that you can get up close and even walk inside some of the rooms.
Thanks to physical evidence left behind by the Sinaguans, archeologists have concluded quite a bit about their prehistoric culture and lifestyle. But since no separate Sinaguan tribe exists today, their exact fate will never be known. Formulate your own hypothesis by visiting Tuzigoot’s fragile and irreplaceable ruins, and don’t forget your camera!
Open Labor Day through Memorial Day 8 AM – 5 PM
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day 8 AM – 6 PM
The park is closed on Christmas Day.
NOTE: As of November 1, 2010, the Museum and Visitor Center is closed for about 6 months for renovations. However, the ruins REMAIN OPEN and NO entrance fee is charged.
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com