Tuzigoot Ruins

Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 3373 - 3462 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Tuzigoot National Monument Visitor Center
Fee: $10/vehicle
Attractions: Ancestral Puebloan ruins, museum, gift shop

The Tuzigoot Ruins are located in the Tuzigoot National Monument near Clarkdale and Cottonwood, Arizona. The extensive ruins at one time were the home site for a group of people referred to today as Sinagua. Sinagua (sin-ah-wha) comes from a Spanish phrase that mean 'without water'. The name Tuzigoot, though, comes from an Apache phrase that means 'crooked water'. The ruin consisted of about 110 rooms with an estimated population of around 250 people.

The trailhead is located just to the south of the Visitor Center. The entire length of the trail is paved but it is too steep for wheelchair accessibility.

The bulk of the ruin is situated toward the end of the ridge where many rooms seem to fan out down the hillside toward the Verde River.

The trail forms a loop around the upper most section of ruins. The loop begins at the flat spot along the ridge that was once a plaza.

Signs along the trail provide useful information about the inhabitants that was gleaned from the many artifacts that were excavated from the site.

When the pueblo was first discovered all of the walls had crumbled and all that remained were piles of rubble. All of the walls that now stand were reconstructed from the rubble pile and the many artifacts were placed in the museum built at the site.

It must have been quite the feeling of accomplishment for those that excavated and reconstructed the Tuzigoot ruins. By today's philosophy about ancient ruins in the southwest a site like this would probably never be reconstructed and possibly not even excavated. Some of the reasoning behind that line of thought is that the modern Indians hold these sites sacred. It is not that uncommon when excavating a site to come across human remains that often times were intentionally buried. Many of the sites that are excavated today are covered with plastic and reburied to stabilize the walls and make them easier to preserve.

A spur trail leads down the hill toward the Verde River to a point below the bulk of the ruins. From here visitors get a closer look at some of the areas where crops would have grown as well as one of the best perspectives of the ruins when they turn around to head back up the hill.

A citadel crowns the Tuzigoot ruins at their highest point. Metal stairs lead up into the citadel with another set that leads the rest of the way up to the roof top.

The roof top provides a commanding view in all directions. Even with only partially standing walls the ruins are impressive. They must have been much more so during the height of their occupancy.

The trail returns to the Visitor Center which has the same appearance as the ruins. The building was constructed to house artifacts from the excavation in 1935 using stones from the excavation. The extensive collection of artifacts covers most every aspect of the daily lives of the Sinaguan people.

The Tuzigoot ruins are just one of many other sites in the Verde Valley area. Other sites that are worth visiting while in the area include Honanki, Palatki, Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and the V Bar V Petroglyph site. With ancient sites occurring in the area every 2-3 miles it is apparent that the Verde Valley has been well inhabited times in the past. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.