Featuring destinations that are in the sun belt of the Southwest while the weather is cool is an environmentally green approach for the tourism industry. Tuzigoot National Monument is definitely is in the sun belt, so a trek to this place during the winter or spring season will be much more pleasant than when the extreme heat of summer sets in. The only problem is that the traditional Arizona tourist season goes from late March till September, so when visiting the Arizona National Park destinations during winter and early spring, many of the local businesses will be closed.
Tuzigoot National Monument is located in central Arizona next to the historic town of Clarkdale. There is plenty to see and do in this region, so planning to spend a few days in this area is a good option to consider. Jerome Ghost Town is close by and so are the historic towns of Clarkdale and Cottonwood, which all had origins in the regional copper mining industry long ago. State Road 89A is the road to look for on a map. This old historic central Arizona travel route was popular during the golden age of Route 66 tourism, so plenty of nostalgic memories can be experienced along the way.
The Verde Valley is as close to being paradise as it gets in the Desert Southwest. This high elevation valley is a sea of green for as far as the eyes can see. The Verde River provides life giving water and this enabled ancient civilizations to flourish in this region. Agricultural practices enabled the ancient civilizations to establish roots and build. Toozigoot is a prime example of this fact. The ruins of the Tuzigoot Pueblo stand tall over the river basin in the green valley below, which has been farmed since ancient times.
The microclimate of the Verde Valley supported many ancient nomadic cultures of the Southwest and a few tribes called this place home for many years. The Sinagua People were dominant in this region about 1,000 years ago and this culture was renowned as being builders. Tuzigoot and Walnut Canyon are two heritage sites where many ancient Sinagua buildings can be seen. In Walnut Canyon, the buildings are cliff dwellings in a deep canyon, while Tuzigoot is a hilltop pueblo. How the Sinagua People adapted building designs that would best suit the terrain is an interesting study in itself.
Tuzigoot certainly stands tall over the green valley below. When standing in one of the top decks of the ancient pueblo, it is easy to see evidence of ancient farms. Tuzigoot absolutely was a major agricultural production facility and trade center way back in its day. This theme is reflected in the building design, which includes many rooms devoted to farmed food preparation, drying and storage. Several ancient stone maize grinders have been unearthed at this site and they are on display in some of the pueblo rooms. Judging by how worn down these tools are, it is easy to imagine that plenty of maize must have been processed by the ancient Sinagua culture. Where there is plenty, there is trade, so Tuzigoot must have had quite an influence on other cultures in the region back in ancient times.
The Tuzigoot Pueblo has 110 spacious rooms. The building complex sets upon both the crest and downward slope of a hilltop. From the top decks of the multi story building at the crest of the hill, a visitor can look down at the rest of the pueblo’s extending arm, which follows the contour of the downhill slope. This is not an easy building style to accomplish and plenty of time spent planning must have been part of the original picture. Since the pueblo was designed to serve agricultural, trade, ceremonial and housing functions, the design of the building certainly had to be complex and one long look down from the top deck is all it takes to agree.
Unlike the ancient pueblos at nearby Wupatki or Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot has no doorway entrances to most of the rooms. Instead, Tuzigoot incorporated timber ladders and rooftop trap doors. This type of design helped to prevent rodent infestations in food storage rooms and it kept the temperatures cooler during the hot summer season.
Wandering from room to room at Tuzigoot will provide insight into the lifestyle of the culture that built this place. The Tuzigoot Pueblo has undergone many extensive restoration projects and archaeologists have turned some of the inner rooms of the central building into exhibits that show how items of the past were used in day to day life. The visitors center also serves as a museum and many excavated artifacts are on display. In depth information and literature pertaining to the history of Tuzigoot and the Sinagua people can also be found in the visitors center.
The ancient archaeological sites of the Southwest definitely do provide an educational experience for visitors of all ages. A visit to an ancient pueblo can inspire a spiritual experience too. A better understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humans and the environment can be grasped by those who can imagine a day in the life of an ancient pueblo civilization. Peaceful harmony and coexistence, while leaving a soft environmental footprint is how the pueblo lifestyle was way back when. During the last decade these same earth friendly high ideals have been taught in classrooms, so the future of the tourism industry and civilization will hopefully trend toward becoming sustainably green once again.
Tuzigoot National Monument is one of many ancient native heritage sites in the Southwest and this magnificent pueblo is well worth placing on the lifetime travel destination list! A lot can be learned by visiting such a place and the inner spirit will certainly be thankful for the time spent away from the modern world. Tuzigoot truly is like a refreshing glimpse of paradise lost!
Leave no trace!
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