I figured that since I spoke about Tuzigoot in a recent post and asked why you wouldn’t want to say you’ve been to a place called “Tuzigoot”, I may as well visit there myself.
So, during National Park Week, my husband and I set out to visit Tuzigoot among other National Parks & Monuments during the fee-free week.
I am so glad we went! Tuzigoot is so much larger than I ever realized! And, it’s right outside of Cottonwood- a quaint little town I’ve not spent nearly enough time in.
A set of ruins showcasing the life lived in the Verde Valley so long ago had 110 rooms spread out over several stories. Presumably, several families made up this community and worked together to farm and keep the community running. The Verde River provided a necessary resource to the community and up until about the 1890’s, the river was over a mile wide in some areas. According to the NPS, today, the water flows from its source near Sullivan Lake near the community of Paulden to its confluence with the Salt River over 140 miles away. The major perennial tributaries drain the area north and east of the Verde River and flow in a southwesterly direction toward the Verde River. Because these tributaries drain areas of significantly higher elevation and receive more rain and snow than the valley itself, flood events can occur during the winter, spring, and summer. The word Tuzigoot is an Apache word meaning Crooked Water…which makes sense because it seems like the water has been all over the place!
Tuzigoot itself is an ancient village built by a culture known as the Sinagua. The first buildings are thought to have been built around 1000 A.D. although the people are believed to have left the area around 1400. The site is currently comprised of 42 acres. It was excavated from 1933 to 1935 by UofA and President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated Tuzigoot Ruins as a National Monument on July 25, 1939. Tuzigoot National Monument Archaeological District was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
Small wildlife is definitely around. We saw squirrels, lizards, and a park ranger had just done a catch and release on a rattlesnake while we were there. Yikes. I was a little nervous walking around but he must have walked it a ways out because I never heard or saw anything except the park ranger walking past us with the catch and release equipment.
The visitor center has hundreds of artifacts including several large pots that had been found in shambles and re-pieced together. There were also arrowheads, tools that were used like hammers, and more.
There were also a ton of people there taking advantage of National Park Week and the free entry, which was really cool to see.
If you’re near Cottonwood, pop on over and check this spot out because it’s super easy to get to, easy to walk around, and a really cool historical set of ruins to visit! I like to envision what these communities must have looked like in full operation and make up my own stories while I’m there. Fun stuff!
Did you go somewhere for National Park Week? Where’d your journey take you?