Thursday, March 27, 2014

Exploring Sedona with New Friends

We were thrilled to learn that Bill and Christine, whom we met in Tucson a few weeks ago, would be coming through Cottonwood during our month here. These two are avid mountain bikers, like to hike, and have a Montana fifth wheel too.

Our first outing was a visit to the Palatki Heritage Site. This site preserves an ancient cliff dwelling and pictographs in the red rocks just outside Sedona. Hans and I looked down into this beautiful site last week when we hiked to the top of Bear Mountain. Though it's free to visit the site (with an Interagency or Red Rock Pass), you must make a reservation in advance as they limit visitors in order to monitor the fragile site.

The ruins are located in a huge alcove that protects them from rain. It is estimated that 60 - 90 people lived here for a period of about 100 years. The ruins are over 95% original. I'm only sharing photos of the dwelling from a distance as the closeup photos were just too close to get'll have to visit the site and see them in person!

Seen from the parking area, the dwelling site is in the round alcove bottom center
Bear Mountain is the white peak top center.

You can see a small portion of the ruins in this zoomed shot.

There were many different colors of pictographs at this site, made by different materials, over many years.
These drawings are black because the paint element is mixed with animal fat
and their placement over a fire pit caused them to turn black.

Following our Palatki visit we drove to the nearby Aerie trail head for lunch and decided to hike up Doe Mountain about half a mile away. The Doe Mountain trail is short but steep and gives access to incredible views of the rock formations surrounding Sedona and points South and West. We were able to walk around the top of the mesa and scope out a future bike ride in the valley below us.

Bill and Christine introduced us to Geocaching on top of the mesa and we had a neat encounter with a collared lizard who let us get very close and observe him for at least 20 minutes without moving a muscle!

Hans living on the edge....

Christine teaches us about geocaching, Hans found the box!

Collared lizard with hedgehog blooms!

What a beauty!

Today we mountain biked the valley below Doe Mountain. There are several miles of interconnecting trails going around various rock formations, crossing washes, climbing short hills and twisting through the beautiful landscape. Some trails were smooth and swoopy, some were rocky and rough. The views were wonderful and the 60 degree temperature made the 12 miles pleasant.

Just one of many fantastic views...this is from the Aerie trail.

Bill and Christine will be moving on soon but we hope to reconnect in Washington this summer. A big thanks for hooking us on Geocaching and for hosting dinner!


  1. We definitely need to replace our mountain bikes and get back to that area!

  2. No moss growing on you guys! I need to spend some time in the hot tub just reading about your adventures!! Hans on the edge is a fantastic shot, really capturing the beautiful views from your hike. Love the lizard, not only is he beautiful but his attitude is priceless :-).

  3. Love that lizard, it is so cute! The red rocks is a great backdrop of Hans geocache finding!

  4. This was a cool site. As a matter of fact, we posted the same picture with the black pictographs! We didn't realize we had to have an appointment and just showed up. It was our lucky day and we were able to tour and even got invited to join a few students into an area that isn't open to the public. Glad you got to check it out.

    The hike up Doe Mt looked like fun. I love Hans hanging out there on the edge:) That collared lizard and the blooming hedgehog is great!

    Fun bike ride with friends. You sure are having a wonderful time.

  5. I love that lizard. The mountain biking sounds very good.

  6. Love your lizard photos. The ones I see are so brown they blend in with the dirt. Enjoy that gorgeous country.