Ancient Ruins of Palatki
Near Sedona Arizona
A designated World Heritage Site, the Palatki Ruins are a window into the culture of ancient Arizonans. Located near Sedona, the Palatki site is filled with cliff dwellings as well as pictographs and petroglyphs that were created by the Southern Sinagua people. Although the journey there can be rough-going over some difficult terrain, the site is considered a must-see stop for anyone visiting the Sedona area.
Ancient Native Arizonans
Archaeologists estimate that the people responsible for creating the Palatki ruins lived in the region for some six thousand years. The Southern Sinagua people, sometimes referred to as Western Anasazi people, were a pre-Columbian people who lived in central Arizona between 500 AD and 1425. The Sinagua lived by hunting, gathering, and rudimentary agriculture. The Sinagua are considered to be the ancestors of the Hopi tribe. Historians are not certain why the Sinagua left the region, but they surmise that warfare and drought were key factors in their departure.
Palatki Cliff Dwelling
The Palatki site is technically two sites in one-the cliff dwelling and the nearby rocks that depict the petroglyphs and pictographs. Palatki, which is the Hopi word for red house, features a cliff dwelling that was constructed in roughly 1150 AD. The cliff dwelling is about two stories high and contains the tell-tale pottery shards that are reminders of the lives that once dwelled there. Historians are not certain why these people abandoned their dwelling in 1300, but they believe warfare had something to do with it.
Palatki Rock Art
Although the petroglyphs and pictographs are quite close to the cliff dwelling, they are not related to it. Many of the thousand petroglyphs and pictographs are between five and six thousand years old-far older than the cliff dwelling. Some of the rock art was created by other ancient people who ranged through the area. There are also many paintings that were created by people after the Sinagua such as the Yavapai and the Apache.
The rock art, which is located a half mile to the west of the cliff dwelling, features a myriad of pictures and symbols that were rendered in various colors like red, yellow, white, and black. Among the pictures are humans, grizzly bears, horses, coyote, deer, and even rattlesnakes.
The Palatki Experience
As a World Heritage site, the Palatki ruins should not be missed on any trip to the Sedona area. As a tangible symbol of the past, the ruins mark an unmistakable native presence in Arizona which continues to the present day. The thread that binds the past to the present is an important tie for understanding Arizona history-even world history. With such fine examples of Sinagua art, the site is a renowned Arizona treasure.
The two trails at the Palatki Heritage Site, one to the cliff dwelling and one to the rock art alcoves are easy walking but are not handicap accessible. There are rest areas and water stations. Nearby is another ancient cliff dwelling and rock art site called Honanki meaning "bear house". Ask the rangers at Palatki for directions.
Reservations are required. Call (928) 282-4119 Monday through Friday. See the map below for directions. The forest roads are generally passable to passenger cars when dry, but there are some rocky stretches.
Allow about 1 - 2 hours to see and appreciate the sites. The entrance gate closes about 1/2 hour before the site closes. The hours are 9:30 .m. to 3:30 p.m.; 7 days weekly, weather permitting. Try to arrive before 2:00 p.m.
Besides the historical feature, visitors will be rewarded with amazing views of the redrock formation for which Sedona is famous. The ruins reside at the edge of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness area. You won't be disappointed.
Traveling west from Sedona, take Highway 89A to Forest Road 525 and head north. The ruins are roughly six miles down a very bumpy road. Reservations are required. Near the parking lot is a small book store that is operated by the Arizona Natural History Association.
Where To Stay
The Ruins are just a short distance from Sedona AZ where you will find a wide selection of Sedona Hotels and Resorts. For longer stays consider vacation homes for rent in Sedona or Sedona bed and breakfast inns.
Palatki at Coconino National Forest
Map To Palatki Ruins