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Too-zee-goot and June-yore Rain-jures: A tour through a 1,000 year old Pueblo
posted by John : February 19, 2017

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I wish my house looked this good

A lot of my posts start with a call back to another time. Usually it's an adventure when something similar happened. So... Back in the year 1300 Tuzigoot was a happening place. The Sinagua people had built a multi-story, 100 room pueblo above the Verde River. About 250 people lived there, trading and farming.

We were just a little late to the party. The Sinagua abandoned the pueblo around 1450 CE for an unknown reason. Since they left no written records we could only learn about them through the visitor center and the Junior Ranger program.

This was our first stop on a week-long, Spring Break tour through Arizona based in Phoenix. As in 2014, we started trip planning with a map of National Park units in Arizona. There are 22 different units so we had plenty to choose from. We gave priority to those with programs for the kids because the Junior Ranger books are an amazingly effective tool for getting the kids engaged.

The visitor center told what we know about the pueblo and its inhabitants based on what has been recovered since excavation began in 1933. There are reconstructed pots, tools, and pieces of art. Although artifacts like these are great, it wasn't until we walked to the ruins themselves that we had a sense of connection.

Except for one small area that has been reconstructed, all that remains are walls of rock and mud. Doors weren't that popular for the pithouses. Entry and exit was through trapdoors in the roof. From the highest point we could see far up and down the Verde Valley including the river that gives the monument its name and lowlands that must have been planted with crops.

Tuzigoot was most likely related to Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well to the north. We visited the Castle on our last trip and the Well will most likely be on our next trip. Arizona is so full of preserved history it's easy to get overwhelmed. Using the NPS units and Junior Ranger programs as a guide is a great way to focus your visits.

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