|On our last visit to Sedona, we rented a GPS Ranger at the Chamber of Congress. We wanted to make the most of our day and this program included three complete tours for an all day adventure. Turned out to be fun and entertaining and included information about Sedona's vortex sites, ancient ruins, famous red rocks, popular hiking trails, Sedona’s geology, history, wildlife, the Movie Making history and lots of local trivia. There was even an amusing segment from the 1947 film "Angel and the Badman" starring John Wayne which was filmed in Sedona. We decided to do the Wild West Tour first, guiding us into Sedona's back country and to ancient cliff dwellings.
The Palatki ruin and rock art site sits several miles away from the highway that connects Sedona to Cottonwood. The drive took us down the slope of the Verde Valley, and the turnoff guided us through open red dirt desert on an unpaved road back to a group of spectacular Sedona red cliffs. The actual ruin site is in a secluded cove hidden by trees, above a small riparian area created by a ribbon-like waterfall that flows down seasonally from the overhanging cliff above the ancient living quarters.
The U.S. Forest Service brochure on Palatki states:
Palatki and its sister site of Honanki at Loy Butte are the two largest cliff dwellings in the Sedona Red Rocks area. Honanki represents one of the largest population centers in the Verde Valley; this period in Southern Sinagua prehistory is called the "Honanki Phase" and is named after this impressive cliff dwelling. Many of the cliff dwellings in the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wilderness area were occupied during the "Honanki Phase". The actual occupation of Honanki was probably between AD 1130-1280, based upon a tree-ring date of 1271, for a wooden window lintel in the upper ruin, as well as pottery shards. Palatki habitation is dated as AD 1100-1300. The pictographs you see here have not yet been scientifically studied. What little we know about them suggests they were created over a long period of time and include several design styles. The earliest may date to the Archaic period (3000-8000 years ago), before the cliff dwellings were constructed.
For the uninitiated reader, pictographs are ancient symbols and images painted on the rocks and petroglyphs are ancient symbols and images scratched or incised into the rock surface.
There are two trails at Palatki Heritage Site. One trail takes you to the Sinagua cliff dwellings, and a second that goes to the alcoves that shelter the painted symbols, or pictographs, from every native culture to ever occupy the Verde Valley. Each one is ¼ mile one way, so the round trip distance is one mile. The trail to the pictographs was fairly easy but the trail to the cliff dwelling included about 50 uneven rocky steps so good walking shoes were a must. There are walking sticks available in the Ranger Station to borrow in case you need one. We appreciated that as we forgot ours today. By the way, the Chamber of Commerce called ahead to make a reservation for us. They limit the group size to each site as the trails are narrow and there is limited room when you finally arrive.
At both sites there is a docent stationed to share information and answer questions. Obviously it works better for them to speak to a group than to have to repeat their story to each individual as they arrive. They probably tell their 'story' a thousand times a day as it is! The docent at the pictographs was especially interesting. We could tell she has a real passion for this area and she cared that we left here today with some of those same feelings. She was great!
A few miles on down the road we decided to take a short hike. We planned to go to the 'top' of a beautiful rock formation but soon realized it would take too much time to reach the top. Arriving back at the truck we enjoyed a tailgate picnic lunch and rested a bit. The weather was perfect and their were no ants! What more could a girl ask for, lol!!!
Next we took the Oak Creek Canyon tour. Oak Creek Canyon is diverse in geology, flora, and fauna. It is rich in history since it was the original home of Sedona’s pioneer settlers of the 1800s. The GPS Ranger guided us through this beautiful Canyon as the road meanders along Oak Creek to hiking trails, historic points of interest and geological wonders. We stopped at Slide Rock but there was a $7 entrance fee and we just wanted to drive through for a quick look. So, we turned around and exited and stopped down the road for a quick look. This area is very popular in the summer months. The creek is too cold and high right now for swimming but there were plenty of folks enjoying the warm sun along it's banks.
Our last tour for today was the Cathedral tour. It travels from Uptown Sedona to the Village of Oak Creek, on to Cathedral Rock and the banks of Oak Creek. Along the way were guided to popular rock formations, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, beautiful photographic vistas, hiking trails, vortex sites and more.
We stopped at the Chapel and spent a half hour or so enjoying it's beauty. Not only is the chapel lovely but the view from there was wonderful. There is a huge home just below it and we were one of many taking photos of it. They certainly don't have any privacy! We loved their landscaping and waterfall.
So, that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed today's visit....We certainly did!