One of the greatest places to see our country's natural beauty. We concentrated our time on this beauty and not the tourist town of Sedona. The maps and information at Red Rock visitor center proved to be very useful.
Near Cottonwood, AZ is Tuzigoot National Monument. The ancient Pueblo is situated on a hilltop and had about 110 rooms. It was originally was built in 1000 AD and abandoned around 1400 AD. The Sinagua were not only farmers but traders. The would travel hundreds of miles to trade.
Montezuma Castle became one of the first National Monuments in 1906. It was home to Sinagua who were cliff dwellers for over 300 years. The cliff dwellings rise above Beaver creek. It is unclear for sure why they left their homes high on the cliffs. The Hopi say that the Sinagua assimilated into Hopi tribes. Nearby is the Montezuma Well. With a constant water supply of 1.5 million gallons of water, the peoples of the area have used irrigation ditches dating back over 1000 years to grow crops and water livestock. The water from this massive sink hole is still used today. The water is not drinkable for humans.
In the Coconino National Forest, there are two other cliff dwelling sites open to the public, the Honanki and Palatki heritage sites. The roads to theses sites are unpaved but accessible by car. They have some of the best preserved pictographs that date back to the Archaic period. Every known native culture has called these dwellings home. During high tourist season, it is best to make reservations ahead of time at Palatki.
We took the Jeep for 3 miles down a Forest Service road and a strenuous hike up the mountain lead us to the Devil's Bridge. Most hiked in from the main road, since the Forest Service road is not passable for most cars. You can walk across the bridge buy many visitors take a few steps out for photos. I was suffering from a severe head cold and the hike up made me slightly dizzy so we stayed safely on the mountain trail. When hiking even a short distance, it is important to bring plenty of water and wear proper footwear. It is amazing to me that many of the visitors to this place had neither.
As we trekked in our Jeep through the rugged terrain, we often passed the Pink Jeep Tours and rented ATV's. On one such trail, we told of a frozen stream. We hiked through the wilderness to find the stream. The best found places are the ones off the beaten path. The frozen stream was smooth as glass.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Roman Catholic chapel, is worth a visit. The architets, Richard Heins and August Strotz, of this structure were students of Frank Lloyd Wright.
We traveled seeking the magnificent rock formations, names known and unknown to us, are scattered throughout the region. The Red Rocks of Arizona are among the most beautiful places that we have seen thus far in our country.
From high above and on the ground we binged on the beauty surrounding us. The Red Rocks of Arizona are breathtaking! We loved it so much that we stayed two more days. We highly recommend stopping at the Red Rocks Visitor center to get a park pass and information about the area.
We were interesting in trying some Arizona wine, so after the hot air balloon ride, we followed the Verde Valley wine trail in search of some delectable juice. Our first stop was Javalina Leap, a small local winery across from Page Springs hatchery. Our first sips of Arizona wine didn't disappoint. Even though the wine that was served was young, it was worth buying a bottle to add to collection. We stopped down the trail at Page Springs winery. This was more of a corporate winery with higher volume and I must say lower quality than Javelina Leap. We left the wine trail for Jerome, AZ. This was at one time the largest copper mine in the USA. Built on the mountain side this tiered little town only has one road in and out. Wine tasting rooms, restaurants, and art galleries line the streets. The main street loops through the town center. It is an unusual art mecca. We popped into one of the many art galleries,the Raku Gallery, to discover T. Weisel was about to do a glass blowing demonstration. Every space in his small studio was used. Old random stools and chairs we crammed in behind the safety rope. We climbed in and watched this master glass artist create beauty. Glass blowing usually takes at least two people but he was a one man show. For us this was the highlight of Jerome.
After arriving back at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, we sat by the campfire and watched the sun set on Jerome and Cottonwood in the distance.
When we were in Sedona, we had stopped at an ATV rental store to pick up a map of the approved OHV trails. We mapped out our trek through the Mingus Mountains, packed a picnic lunch and plenty of water. We set out for what we thought was going to be a 2-3 hour trail turned into a lot more. After we slowly climbed the first hill, we debated if we should press forward or turn back. We didn't turn back. The winding rocky trail through cattle grazing land was slow going. At times Lyra and I would walk the trail ahead of Mike. We actually could walk faster than he could go in the Jeep. As we were nearing the end of our 6 hour trek through the mountains, we spotted a black bear whom must have spotted us. The bear quickly turned in the opposite direction. We didn't see where it was going and we surely wasn't going to try to find out. Bears are nothing to mess with. We went back to the visitor center to tell the rangers about the bear sighting.
On New Year's Day, we met Moe and JT at the Trail Horse Adventures riding center that is situated on Dead Horse Ranch State Park. We signed up for the high desert trail ride. Moe was our guide and we were the only two people in the group. Our painted horses, Hawaii and Mohawk, took us on an hour and half ride across the Verde River and up the rocky hills of the park.
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.