The Sedona/Verde Valley area has so many things to see and do. From the hikes I told you about in the last post to National Monuments to Ghost Towns. You should plan on spending at least a few weeks in this area to see it all.
We started with the Red Rock District of the Coconino National Forest.
We went to the Visitor Center where the boys worked on a Junior Ranger program and we got some good advice about surrounding hikes.
The view from the Visitor Center was pretty stellar. We got our first good look at Castle Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte (in that order from left to right).
The Native American culture is strong here. We stayed right across the highway from the reservation.
We call it Montezuma Castle today, but the descendants of the people who once lived there know it by other names. The Hopi call it Sakaytaka which means “place where the step ladders are going up”. We spent an hour strolling around the grounds here. We were bummed when we learned you can’t go up into the Castle anymore.
Montezuma Castle was used by many different clans. The Parrot, Bear, Water, Cloud, Bluebird, and Spider clans are just some of the clans to have called it home.
Here’s a model they put up of the inside of Montezuma Castle after they stopped letting people go inside.
The Dude and Littlest are standing in front of some Arizona Sycamore trees. I love the way the bark looks camouflaged!
The boys ended up with a pretty cool badge. We actually had to buy the one in the picture, but since they completed the booklet and got the free badge they decided they should have the cooler badge too. We don’t see these badges much. Some parks won’t put them out for sale because they don’t want just anyone to get one.
In the Montezuma Junior Ranger book there’s a few pages that require you to go to Montezuma Well. You can still get the Castle Badge, but if you complete the whole book you get a special button…so…of course, the boys had to have it. I honestly didn’t think the Well would be that interesting. I thought it was just…well…what you see in the photo above.
To my surprise, there are some dwellings at the Well! The Well contains over 15 million gallons of water and is replenished with 1.5 million gallons of new water every day.
For many cultures, Montezuma Well is a sacred place. The Hopi, Zuni, and Yavapai can all trace their ancestors living at the Well. You can’t drink the water, since it has arsenic in it.
Tuzigoot National Monument is one of my favorites so far.
The Visitor Center had some really amazing artifacts that were found there.
One of the coolest things about Tuzigoot is that you get to go inside and then go up some stairs for a great view.
Here’s the view from the top. When the archaeological team got to the Tuzigoot site it was just a big pile of rocks. They knew something was under it because the rocks were so uniformly piled.
Funny story about how Tuzigoot got it’s name…when the archaeologists were looking for a name for the site a Tonto Apache suggested Túzogoot (TWO-see-WHOODT) which means “crooked water”, but the archaeologists spelled and pronounced it as Tuzigoot (TWO-zee-goot) which is nonsensical in Apache. Unfortunately, the Tuzigoot name stuck so that’s what it’s called today. A nonsensical word.
While we were at Tuzigoot we got to see a weaving demonstration. This guy was so good! He was having conversations and pausing, but he never lost his place in the weave design. I’m pretty sure he’s done it a time or two.
The boys left the Sedona/Verde Valley area with two National Park badges plus two special pins, a State Park badge, and a National Forest pin. They work hard to earn the badges. They have to fill out a booklet that requires you to find items, problem solve, hike, and think outside the box. Then, the Ranger goes over it with them to make sure it’s done and they actually understand it all (I think it’s to see if the parents did the book or the kids).
What you’re looking at is the town of Jerome, AZ. Jerome is known as “America’s Most Vertical City”. We drove through it trying to find a place to park so we could grab a burger at the Haunted Hamburger, but we couldn’t find a single place to park. I didn’t get any pics of the town as we drove through and I wish I had. It was a really neat town! Jerome is an old copper mining town and was once known as the wickedest town in the west. It’s supposed to be very haunted. We really wanted to spend time there and if we ever make it back to the Verde Valley, we will definitely stop back in.
We didn’t spend the whole time hiking and exploring National Monuments. Nope. We, of course, had to find some good food! We found Hog Wild BBQ in Cottonwood, AZ. It was so good, we ate there twice. What you see in the photo above is the Mingus Mountain Burger and garlic fries! The Mingus Burger has cheese, bacon, and green chilies on it along with all the usual burger stuff!
So, there you have it! That was our two weeks in the Sedona/VerdeValley area. Usually when we stay someplace for two weeks by the second Wednesday I’m ready to go. I’m itching to move on. But, that wasn’t the case here. On that second Wednesday I started to panic about the lack of remaining time and the abundance of hikes to still do. We’ve had to start a list of places to revisit. Can you guess what the first place on the list is?
See y’all on the road!