Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 1: V-bar-V Petroglyph Site

Distance: 1.1 loop
Elevation: 3,800 ft
Elevation Gain: none

Petroglyph Wall

In the foothills west of Sedona is the V-bar-V ranch, an archeological site run by the U.S. Forest Service. It contains one of the best Petroglygh sites in Arizona. The glyphs themselves were etched between 1150 and 1400 A.D by the Sinagua (pronounced sin agua or without water in Spanish).

Trail to the petroglyph wall

Desert Paintbrush along the trail

There is a short 0.5 mile trail from the small visitor’s center down to the petroglyph wall. There was docent from the Verde Valley Archeological Society there. She used a laser pointer to discuss the history and significance of the petroglyphs.

It is believed that the glyphs represent a calendar. At various times of the year, sunlight hits certain glyphs, marking times to plant or harvest. The website Sinagua SunWatchers contains a detailed discussion of this theory, so I won’t try and reproduce it here.

The trail to the glyphs follows wide road that borders a creek shaded by dramatic Sycamores. I was very impressed by the number of the glyphs and how close you can get to them. At other sites, I have had to use a telephoto lens. At this site, you could practically touch the glyphs.

One thing you should know is that this site is only open Friday through Monday, so plan accordingly. The glyphs are well worth the trip.

There is a different trail one can take back to the parking lot. It is not as flat but wanders through pleasant desert plants.

Directions to the site: From the Y (intersection of 89A and 179) in Sedona, drive south on highway 179 for 14.7 miles. Go under I-17 . At 17.4 miles, you will come to a 3-way fork in the road. There is a large sign for the V-bar-V heritage site. There is a fee unless you have a National Parks Pass.

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