Ancient Dwellings in Red Rock Country

The canyons that surround Sedona are known to contain many Native American dwellings and other artifacts. Visiting these sites can be an adventure—especially if you don’t actually know where they are.

Cliff dwelling in Red Rock--Secret Mountain Wilderness.
Cliff dwelling in Red Rock–Secret Mountain Wilderness.

So we have been visiting and re-visiting some canyons in the area and trying to determine where dwellings might exist. There are several ways to do this. One is to look carefully at the cliff walls and decide if these might support a dwelling. The next is to look for faint paths created by others that lead to the hidden sites within the canyon. And the third is ask a friend who did manage to find the location!

Storage cave and ladder near cliff dwellings.
Storage cave and ladder near cliff dwellings.
Storage cave and ladder near cliff dwellings.
Storage cave and ladder near cliff dwellings.

Methods two and three above worked in our favor recently and we visited this set of dwellings. The first structure we visited was small and looked like it might have been used for storage. There were several small caves and alcoves nearby and these may have provided additional storage. There was also a ladder providing access to some upper caves and clefts. The ladder, although fairly modern, showed significant signs of weathering and we declined to use it.

Century-old signatures on cliff dwellings.
Century-old signatures on cliff dwellings.

The second structure was a well-preserved dwelling—although there was no longer a roof covering it. Inside, visitors in the early 1900’s had scratched their names and dates in the walls. That may have been acceptable then; not so much today.

As we were leaving a fairly large group approached the ruins. Time for us to leave as the quiet moments were over.

A visit to an archeological site in Sedona

The canyons that surround Sedona are known to contain many Native American dwellings and other artifacts. Visiting these sites can be an exciting adventure—especially if you don’t actually know where they are.

I suppose there are web sites and other sources of information that might show where these are and even include photographs and GPS coordinates. I’m less interested in visiting these web sites to get precise information than I am in exploring and finding them on my own. I certainly won’t find many this way—but that’s okay. It’s the adventure that provides the interest.

So we have been visiting and re-visiting some canyons in the area and trying to determine where dwellings might exist. There are several ways to do this. One is to look carefully at the cliff walls and decide if these might support a dwelling. The next is to look for faint paths created by others that lead to the hidden sites within the canyon. And the third is to listen for loud folks who’ve found something and follow them ;-)

Cliff dwelling in a canyon near Sedona.
Cliff dwelling in a canyon near Sedona.

Methods two and three above worked in our favor recently and we visited this dwelling. It was well preserved and there were some pottery sherds (also sometimes called “shards”) as well as corn cobs. As is often the case, visitors had picked up these artifacts and placed them on rocks or walls for easy viewing—although most archeologists suggest they be left where they were found.

Ancient rock art on canyon walls.
Ancient rock art on canyon walls.
Pottery sherds laid out on nearby rocks.
Pottery sherds laid out on nearby rocks.

Our appetites whetted, we plan to visit these canyons again and try to find more
sites.