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The Elden Pueblo ruins are an interesting diversion from the usual "interpretive" sites scattered throughout Arizona. The site is an active dig and restoration project. The loop trail is a gravel path that winds through the ruins and tracks to the north and back to the parking lot. Need a rest stop or a picnic spot when traveling beyond Flagstaff? This may fit the bill!
From the parking lot, head towards the gate in the north-west corner and follow the gravel trail to the west. A sign along the trail serves as a reminder of proper archeological site etiquette.
You will soon encounter the first ruin. This ruin is currently the subject of an active archeological dig and access is blocked off. Hwy 89 is to the immediate south. I'm surprised how many times I've zipped past this site without noticing what was just beyond the trees! The second ruin is accessible to be explored inside and out. Additional ruins can be found looping to the north.
After a little research I soon discovered that the Elden Pueblo Archaeological Project can provide hands-on experience exploring the 60-80 room sites, participate in actual excavations, examine the artifacts, and be part of the on-going research into the lives of the Sinagua people. A few of the pithouses (underground dwelling chambers entered by a ladder through a hole in the roof) date back as early as 1070 AD. The pueblos date between 1150 and 1275 AD. Call the Elden Pueblo Project Manager at (928) 527-3452 for reservations or further details at www.archaeology.org/interactive/arizona/index.html.
Continue along the trail to the north-east as it will loop back to the east end of the parking lot. The gate was locked and required a climb over the fence.
We spent only about 30 minutes at this site. Just enough time to stretch our legs before continuing our journey back home to Phoenix. This is more of a relaxing stroll than a hike - something that may make this an acceptable destination for those that would choose the mall over any outdoor activity. Enjoy!
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Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.