Indian Ruins of the Southwest
This is a catalog of information about ancient Indian ruins in the Southwest States (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico). The listings include some small amount of description of the ruins themselves, as well as information on how to visit them (including how to get more information).
There were actually several different (though related) groups of ancient Indians that left pueblo and cliff dwelling ruins in the Four Corners areaon into southern Arizona and New Mexico. The most well known of these arethe Anasazi, who lived in the Four Corners area for about 2000 years. However, the Mogollon, Hohokam, Sinagua, and Salado occupied nearby regions of Arizona during much of the same time. And after they all disappeared, the early Pueblo peoples (thought to be descendants of the Anasazi and Hohokam) also built pueblos and cliff dwellings whose ruins are visable today.
The word "Anasazi" is a Navajo word meaning "ancient ones" or "ancient enemies"and is used to describe the ancestors of the current Pueblo peoples of the Four Corners Region. Although the region has been inhabited since Paleoindian times (12000-8000 B.C.), the Anasazi probably came into the region somewhere around 700 B.C., and the characteristically Anasazi architecture, pottery, etc. did not appear until nearly 700 A.D. Their earliest lodgings were covered pits. By their halcyon days of between A.D. 1000 through 1300, they were constructing sophisticated pueblo and cliff dwellings throughout the arrid canyon lands of the region. Around 1300, they abandoned their dwellings and moved away. The reasons are still unknown, although there is speculation that prolonged drought played a major role. They left thousands of ruins across the Four Corners area, and many of these have been excavated by scientists and partially restored.
Most Anasazi ruins take the form of pueblos (multi-room, sometimes multi-story, stone-constructed, free-standing dwellings) or (more rarely) cliff dwellings (buildings built in cavernous openings along the cliff faces of the many canyons). Almost all Anasazi ruins also include kivas, which are circularsemi-underground ceremonial rooms. Some sites also feature Great Kivas (verylarge, public ceremonial rooms) and towers.
The Mogollon (pronounced mug'-ee-yone) (and a branch known as the Mimbres) lived in the upper drainage of the Little Colorado River in northern Arizonaon down through southern Arizona from 500 A.D. through about 1450 A.D. The Hohokam lived in the Phoenix basin at about the same time. The Sinagua livedin the San Francisco Peaks area (near Flagstaff) on into the Verde River valley. The Salado lived in the Tonto Basin and Globe-Miami areas of Arizona. After the Anasazi and Hohokam moved out of the Four Corners area (around 1300), the early Pueblo peoples started inhabiting the Rio Grande River valley.
Although there are many similarities in the several cultures, there were many differences including architectural styles, artistic designs used in pottery, basketry and pictographs/petroglyphs, farming techniques, etc. It is clear from many artifacts found that there was a trading network between these peoples and the early peoples of the Pacific coast and with Meso-Americans.
(I've rated the various sites with star ratings, with * (1 star) meaning "Only for really interested parties" and ***** (5 stars) meaning "Must see for everyone". These ratings are based on personal experience and/or readings (and of course, your interests/ratings may vary depending on several factors). I've visited several of these, but not all. Ones that I have no personal experience with are marked [NPE]. Information on various sites comes from brochures/guides obtained at the sites, AAA TourBooks, the InterPARK Messenger (annual visitor's guide to the National Parks, Monuments, and Historic areas of the region), the Ferguson & Rohn and Noble books mentioned below, and several other miscellaneous sources.)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication