Little did you know, the vehicle you commute to work in is really a time machine. On any day of the week you can slide into the driver’s seat, and in 90 minutes your adventure into an earlier time begins. A planned day trip on the Loop of the Ruins draws you into a time when prehistoric Indians populated the Verde Valley. Here they hunted for antelope, deer, turtle and rabbits, and gathered seeds, nuts and herbs to sustain themselves. They lived in pit houses, cliff dwellings and pueblos made of rocks and mud from nearby Beaver Creek.
As you saunter along the paved trail at Montezuma Castle, imagine the busy inhabitants grinding seeds in a matate, the excitement of men coming back from the hunt, or the slow, laborious process of workers constructing the cliff house; one rock and a handful of mud at a time. Suddenly, you will realize the value of modern electronics is nil when it come to survival. There are plenty of resting places along the trail, so sit for a while, and contemplate the resilience of these ancient people.
Now, visualize an oven-hot summer day in the Verde Valley after spending much of it chinking the walls of your house with mud, and arriving at the rim of Montezuma Well to see a sinkhole filled with luscious spring-fed water. The sight so delighted the Sinaguan people that they built structures just under the rim, and some at the bottom in the shade of scrub oaks growing along the water’s edge. The Hohokam people, who preceded the Sinaguas, realized the value of the cool water gushing from the outlet of the sinkhole and rerouted it to irrigate small plots of corn and grain. Before you hike back to your time machine, take a moment to linger in the shade of giant sycamore trees at the outlet, and listen to the water softly trickling past clumps of maidenhair fern growing from the limestone walls along the narrow canal.
Now, having been assimilated into this prehistoric lifestyle by your imagination, Tuzigoot will seem like home when you arrive at the hilltop pueblo. Keep your age in mind as you gaze across the vastness of the Verde Valley from the top of this structure, because as an adult Sinaguan, your life span is approximately forty years. If you lived in this ancient culture, would you still be alive? Take time to rest a bit and ponder the resilience and strength of the people who preceded us; be grateful you are alive, and thankful for these ancient ones who contributed to the subtle advancement of human development.
- Montezuma Castle – 34°36’47”N, 111°50’24”W – elevation: 3180’
- Montezuma Well – 34.6488°N, 111.7536°W – elevation: 3600’
- Tuzigoot – 34°46’15”N, 112°01’34”W – elevation: 3,406