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Sedona Ruins and Pictographs, AZ
mini location map2021-04-10
29 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Sedona Ruins and Pictographs, AZ 
Sedona Ruins and Pictographs, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 10 2021
Hiking7.53 Miles 1,102 AEG
Hiking7.53 Miles   6 Hrs   43 Mns   1.60 mph
1,102 ft AEG   2 Hrs   1 Min Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was our first time in Sedona since last fall, and I finally got the chance to explore a relatively obscure, new-to-me canyon that I'd had on my list for nearly two years. There were a couple of cliff dwelling, petroglyph, and pictograph sites I was aware of that I wanted to check out, and I hoped to do some exploring and find some surprises as well.

The first site had a small cliff dwelling built under a rock overhang. This was an interesting one...there was a large glass bottle of liquid half-buried in the ground. I'd seen the same bottle in pictures of this site from almost 10 years ago, so whatever's inside has been there for a long time. Some hippies had left a piece of paper with an attempt at inspirational poetry on a small rock shelf in the back wall. There was a smaller overhang nearby with a large collection of junk--on old broom, a rusty bucket, and a lot of other random stuff, like someone had set up camp there at one point.

The second site had a mix of some small cliff dwelling walls with some mortar still intact, plus some unique pictographs on the back wall and petroglyphs etched into a large boulder under an overhang. Among other things, the multi-colored pictographs included what appeared to be a person throwing a ball to an animal and some zigzag/snake patterns. The etchings on the boulder included multiple figures, something that looked like a three-pronged pitchfork, and a distinct footprint. There was a lot packed into a small area, and the hippies had been to that site, too--there was another piece of paper tucked behind the rock with something about "feel the energy of the rocks" written on it.

[ youtube video ]

Site #3 was not on our planned route but was the best surprise of the day. We came across an area full of large, colorful pictographs and a few pot sherds. There were three main panels at that site, with additional smaller clusters of drawings scattered across the canyon wall. This site had quite a bit of modern graffiti mixed in with the original pictographs, to the point that it was hard to tell in some places what was original vs. vandalism, which was really disappointing to see. Still, the petroglyphs there the largest and most impressive I've seen in Sedona, with some long, elaborate snake drawings, a large circular symbol, and another panel with lots of animal figures, including some that looked like reindeer. A third panel was located near a wide crack in the canyon wall with a spring and a small pool of water inside, and there were old boards with nails laying around like someone had tried to build something there.

[ youtube video ]

We visited one more site up on a long ledge that ran beneath an overhang on the wall. The ruins at that site were badly deteriorated and didn't look like much more than rubble, but the wall nearby had a few pictographs, including a long, elaborate design that looked like a snake. Based on older pictures I'd seen of that site, that pictograph looks like it's faded in recent years, but it was an interesting one to see. That area was fun to explore--there was a passageway to a side canyon, where we followed the ledge further and back to a small cave.

After visiting that site, we did a little more exploring in the canyon, and on the way back out, we stopped again at the fourth site and explored a little more, farther up the canyon from where we stopped the first time. There was more rubble that may have once been part of a structure, and I found a unique piece of pottery that was made out of dark, almost black rock and had a ridged/corrugated texture, which I'd never seen before.

[ youtube video ]

We only saw one other group all day, which was actually more than I expected to see in that canyon. This is an area that I want to come back and explore more--we didn't find any large, well-intact ruins, but I have a feeling there must be some in the area given everything else we saw. But it was a fun hike in a new part of Sedona with plenty of interesting history along the way.
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