We had been to Montezuma Castle National Monument earlier in the day, but didn’t want to leave the area without stopping at Tuzigoot National Monument as well. Montezuma Castle seemed to be the more popular Monument that we had heard about in the past, but based on what I had read about Tuzigoot on the National Park Services website; Tuzigoot was going to be really interesting and just as good as Montezuma Castle.
Arriving At Tuzigoot National Monument
We arrived at Tuzigoot National Monument to find plenty of parking left in the small lot and we could see the old Pueblo Ruins up on the hill, as we drove up. We went into the museum first to show the Ranger our annual pass and ask about the Jr. Ranger Program. He actually gave us the badges for Montezuma Castle, that we could give the kids after they finished their workbooks, instead of having to mail them in.
Museum At Tuzigoot National Monument
We spent about a half hour inside the little museum looking at all the artifacts, helping the kids with their Jr. Ranger booklets and learning about the site prior to heading out to see the ruins. I found the little museum with all the artifacts really interesting. It is all stuff that had been found locally and / or right on the Tuzigoot site during excavation and preservation activities. It is really amazing to see pottery pieces and tools from so long ago. Apparently, people had abandoned the area around 1400 A.D. according to the National Park Service.
Exploring The Tuzigoot Pueblo
It was a short walk up the hill to the ruins where we were able to get up close and personal with them. There are sidewalks around the edge and you are able to walk right up next to the walls and even walk in a couple of the rooms. Again, this was fascinating to put yourself in the very place, but still so very difficult to imagine living life this way. I am intrigued by the simplicity.
One of the things that just kept bothering me was the fact that there were no doors. They had solid walls and entry or exit was via a hole in the roof. Ladders were used to get to the roof and then down into the room. I couldn’t figure out why they were not built with a doorway opening in the wall. They would use the flat roofs to collect rain water. I could also see that it was a nice security feature to be able to pull your ladder up at night, making it more difficult for intruders to break in.
We were able to go into one room that had been reconstructed with a roof and actually go up to the roof to look out. We could see for miles from there and apparently the original natives of these homes had lines of sight from their roof tops to other families or villages in Pueblos across the valley. The Ranger told us they could communicate with reflective light signals across the valley.
Tuzigoot National Monument was a ruins from what once was a huge construction of Pueblos to form a large community. We could see how they kept building onto the structure over time and that it had over 100 rooms at one time. The kids had more questions to answer in their Jr. Ranger booklets before we headed back into the museum and this helped with the learning experience of the visit as well. They were able to stop back in the Museum to see the Ranger for their badges before we left and wanted to know what National Park we could go to next to get another Jr. Ranger badge.
Final Thoughts On Tuzigoot National Monument
This was a little shorter of a post, but I thought Tuzigoot National Monument was worthy of its own little write-up. If you are planning to go to Montezuma Castle, then I would definitely add Tuzigoot to the visit. Tuzigoot is not preserved as well as Montezuma Castle, but you are able to get up close and personal with the ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument, which provided us with an entirely different experience.
We left here to head up through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, making our way back to Flagstaff. Stay tuned as we still had a few more National Parks in the area that we visited before heading back north.