During our early March, 2020 trip to Sedona, Arizona, I decided to take a break from hiking and visited the Tuzigoot Native American Ruins. These ruins are an ancient village of the Southern Sinagua Indians.
The ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument are only a little more than a half hour from Sedona. In addition, I found it easy to find and a nice drive.
Tuzigoot Ruins are an ancient Native American pueblo community. It is also a National Monument. The Tuzigoot ruins were built on a summit above the Verde Valley and also the Verde River in central Arizona. The name Tuzigoot comes from the Apache word meaning, “crooked water”. Tuzigoot was built between 1000 and 1400 AD. The ruins are Pueblo and contain 110 rooms, some with a second and also third story which could be reached by ladders and accessed through the roof top. Originally a smaller structure for about 50 people, Tuzigoot eventually was home to more than 250 people. The building wasn’t built all at once but built over centuries, adding rooms and areas as the community grew.
Southern Sinagua People
The Southern Sinagua people settled in the Verde Valley in central Arizona area from 650 AD to 1450 AD. (Northern Sinagua people settled in the Flagstaff area). They were an agricultural community and were also active traders. They also made pottery and wove baskets. The Sinagua culture flourished and around 1450 AD, while still at their peak, the Sinagua disappeared. Although no one knows why. Some believe they joined with the Hopi nation and some believe they joined with the Yavapai people and became hunters and gathers. One of the rangers said that it is the belief of current Hopi people that the Sinagua left the area because it was just simply “time to go”.
The Tuzigoot ruins are easy to visit. You can not go inside the ruins but you can follow a walk way around the ruins. From the walkway you can see a fair amount of the ruins from many angles. It is a very peaceful area.
You have vast views all around the Verde valley from the walkway. It is easy to see why the Sinagua People built on this bluff. There is a water source nearby, areas for farming below, and you can see for miles.
Museum and Visitor Center
Tuzigoot has a very nice museum with many of the items having been found at the Tuzigoot ruins or from nearby Arizona. The National Park Rangers that are there are very knowledgeable and friendly. There is also a small gift/souvenir shop there as well. I did ask permission before taking photos in the museum.
I enjoyed touring the ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument. I learned about the Sinagua Native Americans, a group I hadn’t known about, and the interesting culture they had. If you plan on visiting Montezuma’s Castle, which is nearby, you should buy the combination ticket which will save you a bit of money. For more information on Tuzigoot, you can click here on the National Park site.