When we visit northern Arizona, we usually stay at the Thousand Trails RV Resort in Cottonwood. We love that it is right in the center of so many things to do! Go west, and you drive through the quaint little town of Jerome, and take a winding, gorgeous desert drive over to Flagstaff (where our boys love to visit all the gun shops!). Head east, and you will wind up in Sedona with all of its eclectic shopping and fabulous hiking! Also local are several different national parks! Tuzigoot National Monument is the closest, and it is a mere 10 minutes from the campground.
Tuzigoot National Monument is one of several native villages in the area. While some are cliff dwellings, Tuzigoot is a hilltop pueblo.
Our first stop at any national park is always at the visitor’s center, where we pick up Jr. Ranger booklets for the kids to do, and find out from the rangers any tips on visiting that specific park, such as things not to miss. Since most of the kids had completed this Jr. Ranger program on previous visits, only Molly, Savanna, and Joel worked on it this time. Joel had actually completed it several years ago, but he enjoys the program, so he decided to do it again anyway.
Tuzigoot National Monument isn’t a large national park (roughly 50 acres), but it’s still a great destination for an hour or two visit.
The museum tells the story of the Sinagua people, and their pueblo, which was built, and then added on to, from 1000 b.c. to 1400 b.c. The museum also covers native plants and animals, as well as other local history. The visitor’s center contains a small gift shop as well. If you would like to attend the ranger-led program to learn about the park and its history, be sure to show up early as these are offered daily at 10 am.
Outside, paved walking paths lead out to a marsh overlook (.5 miles round trip), while another leads in the opposite direction, to and around the pueblo (1/3 mile loop). The marsh walk is ADA accessible, and while the pueblo loop is also paved, it has steeper grades and may not be easy to do with a wheelchair.
The pueblo is one, large conglomerate of rooms that share walls, and are sometimes connected. In some areas, the pueblo is still multiple stories high. In the center, you can climb a staircase to get to the very top of the pueblo which gives you are great overlook of the pueblo, marsh, and the surrounding valley.
My littles love the easy to maneuver pathways here, the short hikes, and the view from the top!
We take a max of 2 hours to visit Tuzigoot. Since the paths are so short, the biggest worry is making sure that you have sunscreen if you are visiting in the summer! The visitor’s center has restrooms, a drinking fountain, and the paths go in opposite directions from the v.c. and parking lot so you are never far from your vehicle (no packing a hiking backpack!).
Tuzigoot is a great quick stop in northern Arizona, especially if you are staying near Flagstaff, or Sedona, or even better, right there in Cottonwood! —And it’s especially fun to meet people on the top of the pueblo who are staying in the same RV park you are at and they recognize you from a magazine, where you were featured earlier that month! lol. *you can find the article here, on page 26 🙂 ).
Want to explore the park for yourself? You can find out more about Tuzigoot National Monument on the National Park Service website, here.