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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Palatki and Honanki Ruins, near Sedona Arizona

About twelve miles west of Sedona (as the crow flies) there are two Sinagua cliff dwellings or ruins called Palatki and Honanki. The Sinagua, are thought by the archaeologists who study this stuff to be ancestors of the Hopi, and lived at these sites from about AD 1100 to 1300. These sites not only have some impressive ruins to view but also have many examples of Native American rock art.
Palatki is the site closer to Sedona and it has a short 1/4 mile trail from the parking lot to the ruins. The ruins are up against the base of a large red rock cliff in a curved alcove with and overhang that gives the structures some natural protection from weather. At Palatki there are two main sections of the ruins, leading to speculation by the "smart guys" of there being two clans that lived side by side here.
 But who really knows, and I would guess that no one ever will. The largest of the two main structures here is two stories tall with some rock art farther up on the cliff wall indicating it may have even been three stories at one time. But there are some other small partial structures as well, in between the two main areas.
There is also another short path that leads to some impressive rock art that is well worth seeing while you are there that has this round shield or circle design and many other animal type images.
After seeing this site you will want to see Honanki that is a bit farther west. Honanki was apparently the larger of the two dwellings when it was inhabited. Again it is situated along the base of a large red rock cliff.  At a place called Loy Butte, right next to Loy Canyon. 
Loy Butte and Loy Canyon is named after the Loy family that homesteaded the area back in the old days.  I have met a man named Robert Loy who was born up in Oak creek Canyon more than 80 years ago.  He told me his father was offered land in Sedona at a nickle and acre and did not buy it because he did not think it was good to graze cattle on.  Little did he know how the prices would be today, and so it goes.
 Anyway Honanki ruins is really one main alcove of structures with several more structures scattered along the bottom of a large cliff. 
Along with that there is some very impressive rock art all around the surrounding area.  One thing of note, is that in summer I have seen rattlesnakes in this area, more than once and heard of others seeing them too, so watch your step!
     When you go to Honanki ruins it is just past a parking area for the Loy Canyon Trail.  If you have time Loy Canyon is a beautiful and remote area with fantastic red rock scenery, and also has several undeveloped ruins and sites.
  Some of my favorites that I have found are hidden in this canyon, and I will let them stay that way. 
You will have to find them the same way I did through exploration.  But I highly recommend you hike up this beautiful canyon.  The trail is long and takes you all the way up the rim to the pine forest above, but I tend to just stay down in the canyon myself. 
Currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service under the Red Rock Pass Program and there is a fee to park, in other words you must purchase a Red Rock Pass.  I believe you can buy them at the parking areas.  Remember these sites are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. These laws prohibit digging, removing artifacts, damage and defacement of archaeological resources on public lands, and provide felony and/or misdemeanor prosecution with imprisonment up to ten years and fines up to $100,000.

Access:   From Sedona: You take Hwy. 89A south from West Sedona and continue past the last traffic light for five miles. Just past mile marker 365, turn right onto Forest Road 525. Go north for 5 miles and when F.R. 525 bears left, continue straight ahead onto Forest Road 795 for two miles. This road will lead directly into the Palatki parking lot.

An alternative way to access Palatki it to take Dry Creek Rd. out west from Sedona. There are signs at every intersection that will direct you towards Palatki. At the end of Dry Creek Rd, turn left onto Boynton Pass Road (FR 152C). At the next stop sign, turn left again. In a couple of miles, the pavement will end and you should continue on the rough gravel road for three miles until you reach another T intersection where you should turn right. It is 2 miles to Palatki from this intersection. These roads are generally passable to passenger cars when dry, but it is not regularly maintained by the County and has some rough and rocky stretches.

From Cottonwood: Take 89A north from Cottonwood. About 1/2 mile north of mile marker 364, turn left onto a dirt road (Forest Road 525 to Forest Road 795; passable for passenger cars when dry), and drive 7 miles to Palatki Heritage Site and the parking lot.  To get to Honanki you just continue on FR 525 past the FR 795 turn off another 4.5 miles.  This is all dirt roads and can be rough in some seasons.  But it is some very beautiful country to drive through!

For more information http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/palatki-ruins.shtml

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