Exploring the Earth and Sky of the West


A Day at Soldier Pass

Soldier Pass is one of my favorite areas in Sedona for hiking and photography.  It is close to town and doesn’t require taking my car on roads that make me feel like the axles are going to spontaneously detach from the car at any moment.  Plus, one can find enormous sinkholes, picturesque pools of waters, and a cluster of natural arches all within about 1.5 miles of one another.  Here’s a few pictures from a hiking and geocaching excursion to Soldiers Pass last weekend:

This is the final Arizona entry for awhile.  As of Thursday, I am off to Utah, Walla Walla, and then New Zealand for a study abroad semester. More to come on that soon…with pictures of course!

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Red Rock Crossing

Cathdral Rock and Oak Creek

Cathedral Rock from Red Rock Crossing, Sedona, AZ

Traces of the Sinagua: the V-V Petroglyph Site

Located just about a half hour southeast of Sedona, the V-V petroglyph site is one of the most spectacular and best preserved petroglyph sites in Arizona.  Located on the private V-V ranch until 1994 when the ranch was acquired by the Coconino National Forest, the rock art was likely created by the Southern Sinagua between 1150 and 1400.

Stone chminey at the entrance to the V-V Ranch

The main panel of petroglyphs at the V-V site. The sprial patterns at upper left are thought to have served as part of a solar calendar

During certain times of year, the Sun shines through the small slit overlooking the petroglyph panels seen in the photo below.  Large rocks that protrude from the cliff face cast shadows that fall on the panel indicating the vernal and autumnal equinoxes as well as other dates that would have been important to the Sinagua.

Several large herons adorn the petroglyph panels

The V-V petroglyphs are not the only clues left behind by the Southern Sinagua.  The Verde Valley is home to numerous petroglyph and pictograph sites, cliff dwellings, and other ruins, many of which are thought to have been constructed during the same time period as the V-V site. Perhaps the most impressive is Montezuma Castle, a 20 -room cliff dwelling near Camp Verde nesteled about 100 feet above the valley of Oak Creek in a cliff of old lakebed sediments known as the Verde Formation


A few miles south of the V-V ranch is Montezuma Castle, also constructed by the Southern Sinagua around the same time period

For directions and hours to the V-V site, check out http://redrockcountry.org/recreation/cultural/v-bar-v.shtml