Tuzigoot National Monument – Full-Time RV Life

During our time near Sedona, Arizona, we visited  Tuzigoot National Monument, which is located in the beautiful Verde Valley.  From the road and Visitor’s Center, Tuzigoot looks like a typical desert hilltop.  The short walk up an easily traversed path, however, reveals a massive stone-built structure with several stories containing rooms which served as home to numerous thriving communities dating back 13,000 years–thirteen thousand years.

The Visitor’s Center has in-depth information about the history of excavation of the site, including a display of pottery bits, hand-hewn weapons, and beautiful beaded jewelry found in the unearthing.  In the early 1920s, archeologists Caywood and Spicer started the excavation of what Tuzigoot is today.  The name was suggested by a Tonto Apache named Ben Lewis–Tu’ zighoot (pronounced TWO-zi-WHOODT) meaning crooked water.  Caywood and Spicer mispronounced the name as Tu-ZI-goot which is nonsense in Apache, but the name sadly stuck.  The local Yavapai tribal elders still call the area crooked water in their language, which is Aha Gahlahkvah.  The area was home to several bands of peoples over the years, including the Hopi and Zuni, and is a place of great respect for the spirits of the many tribes who made Tuzigoot home as they migrated.

For Hopi, Tuzigoot is a place to reconnect with the past.  It reminds us we survived and we became better people for it.  We all need these types of places.

…Micah Loma’omvaya, The Hopi Tribe

View of the Visitor’s Center from the path.
One of the first views as the structure comes into sight.
The structure was well built to last the years of time.  Each stone was carried and applied by ancient hands, giving life to the sturdy ruins.
It’s hard to imagine the hardships of this way of life, each person foraging for food and water to support a family and the community as a whole.  
Each ‘room’ was a family’s habitat.
View of the surrounding desert where food, water, and resources helped the communities thrive.
One of the ‘floors’ leading to the top of the structure. 
The top of the structure offering a view for miles, which may have served as a lookout to keep the communities safe from intruders.  

What I found interesting is Tuzigoot was not a permanent home except for those who could no longer travel.  It seemed to be a stop in a larger migration of Native American tribes and other ancient people.


Maybe being restless staying in one place is a human condition passed from generation to generation.  There is so much to learn from the past and these migrating tribes.  Their nomadic quests were for simple survival and the need for basic necessities such as food and water, but did the traveling spirit pass down to the current generation?  Could our nomadic behavior be a carry-over from the ancient wanderers who have lived and thrived thousands of years before us?

…the people that used to live here are still thriving.  They didn’t abandon their places, they are still connected spiritually.

…Jerome Zunie, Pueblo of Zuni

Tuzigoot brought up many more questions than it answered.  I listened to the wind blowing through the desert fauna and watched the shadows of clouds moving over the mountains in search of whispers answering my many questions.  I heard none that day, but I know they’re there.

Have you been to Tuzigoot?  Do you think we’ve taken on behaviors for survival from our brave ancestors without knowing why we have the desire?  Do you hear answers on the wind?  Those are a lot of random questions, I know.

Safe travels, my nomadic friends.

Gratuitous selfie to prove we were there.
Roy and Judy bravely stood atop the Tuzigoot structure.  We love our silly friends!


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  1. I LOVE Tuzigoot! I’ve only been there once. Would love to go back.
    Thank you for all your posts. I’m having the best time ‘traveling’ along with you.

    1. It was a hidden gem, for sure. I would not have known about it if I didn’t have the national park passport book. Once we planned our visit, a neighbor in the RV park told us what a beautiful place it was. I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit.

  2. Wow, what an interesting place. I’m sure our wandering hearts have roots in tribes like that, we are all looking for something. They looked for food, water, shelter…we look for adventure, history and answers.

  3. What a cool place! We think their way of life was hard, but it must have been so much simpler. Like you, I’ve looked for answers on the wind and I’ve never found them. Perhaps it’s why we wander too.

  4. Great photos! We stayed at Dead Horse Ranch State Park just down the road from Tuzigoot and were pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see and do in that area. Beautiful!

  5. Mike and Dawn– so so fun to read through this post!! We visited Tuzigoot with my family when I was about 10 years old (55 years ago!) and it was wonderful to see your bright clear photos!! Looks like you had a great time there! thanks.

        1. We are currently in Amarillo, TX, and we’re headed to Springfield, MO, to see my daughter. Then, we are going to the midwest farm country in Ohio for a family function (but I’ll make a stop in Illinois to do some family research). After that, we aren’t quite sure, but we’ll be moseying back west for a function in north Texas in October. We don’t usually zigzag this much, but it’s been worth it.

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