arizona indian ruins

The Best Preserved Arizona Indian Ruins & Cliff Dwellings to Visit

Cliff Dwellings, petroglyphs and Native American Indian ruins tell the story of the earliest inhabitants in Arizona. You can visit some amazingly well-preserved Native American Indian Ruins throughout the state.

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Arizona Prehistoric Tribes

Prehistoric tribes in Arizona included the Pueblo, Hohokam, Mogollon, Patayan, and the Sinagua. Arizona’s archaeological treasures give us a glimpse of the state’s ancient history.

Types of Indian Ruins

What are Cliff Dwellings?

Cliff dwellings are ancient dwellings nestled among the rocks. These are my personal favorite to view and explore. Ancient dwellings built into towering cliffs look as if they are part of the formation. Prehistoric tribes utilized the natural landscape for shelter and protection.

Examples of cliff dwellings in Arizona are Walnut Canyon, Montezuma’s castle, Tonto National Monument, and Palataki.

What are Pueblos?

Pueblos were multi-story flat roof homes. Pueblo villages blended seamlessly with the desert landscape and were usually constructed using adobe bricks, stone, and timber.

What are Kivas & Ceremonial Sites?

Kivas were underground circular ceremonial sites. An example of a kiva can be see at Tusayan Ruins in the Grand Canyon.

The Best Arizona Indian Ruins & Cliff Dwellings

From cliff dwellings to expansive pueblos below is a list of some of the best preserved Native American ruins in Arizona.

  1. Pueblo Grande Museum and Ruins
  2. Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve
  3. Casa Grande Ruins
  4. Tonto National Monument & Cliff Dwellings
  5. Montezuma Castle
  6. Tuzigoot National Monument
  7. Palatki Heritage Site
  8. Honanki Heritage Site
  9. Walnut Canyon
  10. Wupatki National Monument
  11. Tusayan Ruin


Phoenix Indian Ruins: S’edav Va’aki Museum, formerly known as Pueblo Grande Museum

The Hohokam style is prevalent in the Phoenix area. S’edav Va’aki Museum is in downtown Phoenix. This interesting museum is built next to native archaeological ruins that are best explored in the cooler months.

Casa Grande Ruins

Casa Grande Ruins are just southeast of Phoenix. This national monument preserves a group of Hohokam structures abandoned in the mid 1400’s. The “big house” is the 4 story caliche structure.

Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve

If you want to see petroglyphs stop by the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve.  This 40-acre preserve is tucked away behind north Phoenix neighborhoods in Hedgpeth Hills.

Learn about the southwest’s past in the archaeology museum. A short hike to petroglyphs makes this a great family fun activity in Phoenix.

The preserve has over 1500 petroglphs. You can take a short .25 mile walk. The path is dirt and you can easily spot the petroglyphs in the rocks along the path.

In Arizona you can view three types of petroglyph styles. These include:

  1. Archaic style dating from 5000 BC to AD 300
  2. Hohokam dating from AD 300-1450
  3. Patayan  dating from AD 300-1450

Arizona Cliff Dwellings

All of these sights are fascinating. So far, our favorite cliff dwellings were Walnut Canyon, Palatki Heritage Site, and Tonto National Monument.

Tonto National Monument & Cliff Dwellings

If you take the epic Apache Trail road trip, which I highly recommend, you will end up near these amazing cliff dwellings. The Tonto National Monument and Cliff Dwellings have a great view of Roosevelt Lake.

Montezuma’s Castle: Indian Ruins Near Sedona

Sedona and the Verde Valley are home to several Native American Indian ruins. Montezuma Castle’s easy access from the freeway and the fact that it is the most well-preserved Sinagua complex in Arizona makes this one of the most popular ruins to see.

If you’re here don’t forget to take a drive and hike the shaded area of Montezuma’s Well. Read more about Montezuma’s Castle

Tuzigoot National Monument

If you’re in Verde Valley Tuzigoot National Monument is a great site to explore. Just over 20 miles from Montezuma’s Castle, this scenic spot gives you beautiful views of the valley. You can explore the remnants of one of the largest pueblos built by the Sinagua. Learn more about Tuzigoot.

Palatki Heritage Site

Palatki Cliff Dwellings and Honanki Heritage Site are often visited on the same day. Both are in Sedona and will require a spirit of adventure to get to. You can view ancient Sinagua ruins and petroglphs at this site.

Honanki Heritage Site

To see Honanki Heritage Site you will need a high clearance vehicle. This site is free to visit. While it is only a few miles from Palatki the drive is about 20-30 minutes due to the rough roads.

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings Near Flagstaff

Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon are home to several Native American Indian ruins. Walnut Canyon is just east of Flagstaff. This fun hike takes you to view 700-year old Sinagua cliff dwellings and yes you can walk right up to many of them.

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument was a large farming community surrounded by small dwellings. At one time, more than 2,000 people called this area home. Read more about Wupatki National Monument.

Kivas & Ceremonial Sites

Tusayan Ruin

Tusayan Ruin is near the east entrance of the Grand Canyon. This Native American ruin gives you a  glimpse of how the Pueblo Indians lived some 800 years ago.

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