During our early March 2020 trip to Sedona, Arizona, I took some time to explore a few Native American places including a Petroglyph Heritage Site at V Bar V Ranch. I started the morning at Tuzigoot National Monument and the Ranger there informed me about the Petroglyphs at V Bar V. I had not heard of this site but since it was close to the other spots I was exploring, I decided to check it out. It was an area connected to the Sinagua Native Americans and I was learning a lot about them on this adventure. V Bar V is about 15 miles from my previous stop at Montezuma Well and about 15 minutes from where I was staying near Bell Rock in Sedona.
V Bar V Heritage Site is only 5.6 miles from Montezuma Well which I had just left but it took me about 15 minutes. It is in a more obscure place. You will follow dirt roads, narrow roads, cross cattle grades and pass over one lane bridges. At times I wondered if I was on the right trail, but an occasional sign let me know I was on the right road.
At the V Bar V Heritage Site you will find a sandstone bluff covered with 1032 petroglyphs. These petroglyphs were the art of the Sinagua People who lived in this area between 1100 AD and 1450 AD. The Sinagua People drew these petroglyphs by pecking, scratching and grinding the images into the sandstone. This is the best preserved and largest petroglyph site found in the Verde Valley.
No one knows for sure what the drawings represent. They depict people, animals, shapes and more. There are some who believe that the geometric shapes and even squiggly lines may represent a way of tracking time or even a type of calendar. The Sinagua People planted crops and traded so they may have kept track of when to plant or trade. The sites’s interpreter at the Petroglyph site also mentioned that the Sinagua often depicted images in pairs that you may notice if you look closely.
Around the turn of the century, a cattle ranch built on this property and operated for almost 100 years. In 1994 this land was aquired by the US Forest Service and Verde Valley Archeology Society manage the site. You can listen to interpretive talks at the petroglyph site and there is a visitor center and small history museum on site. In 1907 a ranch house was built on site. All that remains is the massive stone fireplace below.
The Path to the Petroglyph Site
Once in the parking lot you will have no problem finding your way to the Petroglyph Site. Follow the entrance and within a few feet you will see a large fireplace appearing to be in the middle of a yard. The fireplace once was part of the ranch house. The path is to the left, there will be a sign also. If you look to the right, you will find the visitor center.
You will find the dirt packed path to the site easy to walk on. It is 1/3 mile. You can’t miss the site. You will come to an interpretive area and the petroglyph’s are to the left, behind some trees. There is a ranger there that gives an interpretive talk and answers questions.
I really enjoyed this adventure. The V Bar V Heritage Site is really a fantastic petroglyph site. It was a great way to end my explorations that day. I don’t think I have ever seen so many petroglyphs together. A definite must see if you are in the area.