The Mystery People of Sedona
Mystery describes the Sinagua Indians. They lived in the Sedona area for hundreds of years, then in 1420, one hundred years before the white man arrived, they left.
Five thousand of them, gone without a trace.
Some scholars thought they migrated then intermingled with the Hopi Indian.
Nonetheless, they left a rich heritage for you to enjoy when you visit Sedona.
The Most Popular Pink Jeep Tour
You can’t help notice the shiny pink jeeps all over Sedona and the surrounding area.
The company is brilliant. they took one of the men’s favorite sports, bouncing around in the backcountry, and painted it pink. Then they market all the attire and everything else Pink Jeep.
Women love it. Men love that women love it.
This slightly bumpy tour to the Sinagua ruins is a favorite of the Pink Jeep Tour company. It’s an easy drive through West Sedona on AZ Highway 89A, then a short trip on a public unpaved road into the protected ruins.
At the end of the road, we entered a fenced in area, and our tour guide, Chip Roberge, led six of us on an easy path back to the Sinaguan homes dug into the cliff.
A Quick Pit Stop then Off to the Path
“I used to be a banker,” Chip Roberge told us as we started up the path to the Ancient Sinagua ruins just outside of West Sedona, “but I started doing Pink Jeep tours years ago and I’d never go back.”
Lesson One – Trees
About an hour before sunset on a warm September evening, our party of six entered the ruins through a half-mile long, lightly forested, rocky footpath.
“This wasn’t the land flowing with milk and honey. There is no river near. In the desert, you can spot the water where you see a clump of trees. In fact, this area here would have been bare when the Sinagua Indians lived here. They would have used them all.”
Normally found in only the highest areas of Sedona, this interesting specimen, an Alligator Juniper definitely reminded you of an old alligator. Don’t get too close!
No worries, it was just a branch, but be careful. You might see a rattlesnake.
Lesson Two – Fruits
Chip pointed out several plants along the way. We passed a withering vine. The poisonous effects of the prickly melon fruit on the Sacred Datura could kill a human. If you were lucky it could put you into a four-day hallucinogenic spell. I saw one of these in the Woodlake Botanical Gardens and dug it out.
Another prickly fruit, the prickly pear, you can pay about $10 for a permit to pick them. Since I’m not fond of pears, I passed. Beware, they will stain your mouth red. To pick them, stick a finger in the center indentation and wiggle it off the cactus. It seems like a lot of work to peel and eat each prickly bite.
Lesson Three Buildings
It didn’t take us long to meander the half mile up to the ruins once we stopped taking pictures of the plants along the way.
In spite of the relative luxuriant of the meadow today, I thought of being exiled here. I wondered if maybe these were the outcasts from the more robust societies along the river banks. Nonetheless, their homes showed creative similarities to Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle.Chip said they used lumber to prop open the rows of windows. It looks like rocks to me.
With the scarcity of water, creating this much mud mortar must have been difficult. They used urine instead of fresh water. Since the last Sinaguans left in the 1400s, you can assume that it worked well. Scholars think that the Hopi Indians might have used these homes. It was unclear to me whether the tribes ever lived together, however.
Here you can see the windows more closely.
Lesson Four – Art
As you look up, high on the side of the hill you could see several markings on the different buildings. This distinctive seal marked their home much like a family crest identified families in Europe.
These pictographs displayed horses and people, but Chip suggested that horses had not come to the area at the time of these paintings. Can you see the ghost on the right side of the next picture? Some people could not spot it at first. Apparently, it is fluorescent and can be seen under a different light.
Lesson Five – The Rock Formations
Rock formations near the Sedona Ancient Ruins include Thunder Mountain and Chimney Rock and Lizard Head Rock.
Here’s the secret.
None of them are mountains. You can’t go to the Sedona Mountains because, according to our guide, they are not mountains, they are sedimentary rocks. Just rocks.
I’d like some of these rocks in my backyard, wouldn’t you?
Almost Sunset on Chimney Rocks.
In the next picture, you see Thunder Mountain (not a mountain) looming to the left of the pink jeep.
The driver took some sunset pictures using our cameras. Even though we were in the jeep with no windows to hold us back from the views, we couldn’t see as well from the right side.
The tour hour had expired but the views were so spectacular that the driver slowed down to allow us to take more pictures. (I’m sure he tells everyone that but we felt special nonetheless.) He did drive fast the rest of the way back.
If you are unable to walk for a mile or stand for 45 minutes to an hour there are three National Parks nearby Sedon you might enjoy more.
- Montezuma Castle has an easy walkway, but you don’t get close to the ruins.
- Montezuma Well is also on Highway 17. If the Castle is a #1 walk, then the Well is a #2.
- Tuzigoot is my favorite. Not only can you walk amid the ruins there is a museum with a Junior Ranger Guidebook that children can complete as they walk the park and the museum.
If you haven’t read your 19 minutes yet today and want to consider a further investigation, here are three references I used to prepare this post.