When we turned off the engine after about seven miles of a rough gravel road, the haunting sounds of a flute echoed off the sheer red rock cliffs. A ranger informed us that a Native American was performing a ceremony in keeping with the ancestral ways, and asked that we respect his religious practices and leave him alone if we should happen to come upon him. The Palatki Pueblo is still a sacred area to the native Puebloans.
Palatki is one of the few archeological/Native American sites situated within and operated by the National Forest Service. Now as part of the Red Rock Pass system vehicles are allowed access to Palatki as well as all trailhead parking .
Staffed with a ranger and volunteers, the visitor count has predictably jumped dramatically, even with the rough access road and small parking lot that fills up early in the day.
The Southern Sinagua people lived in Palatki, one of the largest Pueblos in the area, from 1150 to 1350 when the sites were abandoned as the inhabitants likely moving to pueblos along Oak creek and the Verde river.
Palatki consisted of two separate pueblos. About 30-50 people occupied the site, suggesting two family or kin groups, one in each pueblo.
Visual layers of time record the history of these red rock canyons, where a large concentration of art, pictographs, and designs were painted or drawn on rock surfaces, one drawing made on top of another. Some represent human occupation of Verde Valley from Stone Age hunters and gatherers 3,000 to 6,000 years ago to 19th century European.
To get to Palatki, turn west on 89A in Sedona, AZ to Dry Creek Road. Turn north on FS 152 and follow the signs. Water available. The site is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Learn more.
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