Most people (myself included) drive 89 north and south out of Flagstaff and have seen the sign for Elden Pueblo Ruins along the side of the road. Maybe your curiosity was struck, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe you swear to stop next time you pass by but always forget or your schedule is tight so you don’t. Or maybe you are oblivious and don’t even know what I’m talking about. No matter the reasoning- you’re forgiven.
And you’re not alone. I’m one of those passerby’s who always put it off because I thought it wasn’t going to be worth it. And to be honest I always had somewhere to be. Well, I finally stopped to check it out and thought it was worth writing a post about.
Think the Elden Pueblo Ruins off highway 89 are a hard pass, or, are they worth stopping for? Keep scrolling to learn a bit more about it and peep some pictures to decide for yourself!
Quick Facts: Elden Pueblo Ruins
- Operating Hours | 24/7 year round. Check status on fs.usda.gov
- Cost | Free
- Dates Inhabited | A.D. 1070 – 1275
- Length | 250 yard dirt path.
- Time | 15-30 minutes.
- Facilities | None besides a parking lot and brochure map for self exploration.
Visiting the Elden Pueblo Ruins will most likely only take you 15-30 minutes depending on how slow you move about. Once you park just make your way to the start of the path which is marked with signs and a brochure holder. Feel free to take a brochure and follow the numbered sites to broaden your knowledge.
A fun fact about the ruins is that they are also an active archeological site. This means surveys are still being done in real time. These are typically performed during the summer months and you’re able to walk around to observe the process.
Often times the volunteers will hold special events which showcase the culture of local tribes. A tribe member will set up a tent and demonstrate as well as instruct skills like basket weaving. I happen to know this solely from dropping by on a random Friday when a volunteer was present. I do not know of a way to find an online calendar of events, but typically these special events are held on Saturdays. You just may have to stop by and hope for the best!
Getting To Elden Pueblo Ruins
Seems surreal that this gem is located right off the highway. I can almost appreciate the paradox of modern day civilization surrounding ancient ruins such as this. In the end I’m just thankful these are protected!
Reaching the Elden Pueblo Ruins is very easy. As stated, they are located right alongside highway 89. If you are heading north they will be on your left side just past Matador Coffee Roasting Company, and if you are heading south they will be on your right. The parking lot isn’t super large but it also isn’t a very busy place so you should have no problem parking and finding your way.
Of course you can always input the name into Google Maps and the GPS will take you right to it.
Fascinated by ancient cultures? You’ll love Exploring Walnut Canyon National Monument In Flagstaff
Please practice Leave No Trace!
It is illegal to dig, take artifacts, or tamper with archeological sites. Please remember to tread lightly and take care of sites such as this so they last for generations. Most ruins are still visited by the local tribes today and typically hold spiritual significance. Let’s respect and support their cultural beliefs!
About The Elden Pueblo Ruins
So what is so special about Elden Pueblo Ruins? Well, for starters this site was built sometime around A.D. 1070 by the Sinagua (Sin’ ah’ wa) and was inhabited until about 1275. This site holds special significance due to the fact it is much larger than the typical pueblos built in the area at that time. Usually the Sinagua built smaller sized pueblos, mounds, and pit houses.
The reason Elden Pueblo is so large is due to the fact it was most likely part of a major trading system at the time. Ancient tribes commonly traded amongst one another, reaching as far as the coasts of Mexico and California. So, the evidence of macaw skeletons and shell jewelry found within Elden Pueblo leads archeologists to believe as much.
Just how large was Elden Pueblo? The ruins are thought to have hosted 60-70 rooms including a large community room lined with a bench and fireplace in the center. They also had a handful of crops which were naturally watered by rain and snowmelt draining down from Mount Elden.
Evidence of the old crops can be seen today. The volunteers have been growing their own to demonstrate what one would look like during those times. It is located at the beginning of the path, off to the right side. Beyond this garden you’ll be able to see the sides of the ground slope inward towards the gardens. They look like they were ‘stepping’, most likely to prevent flooding of the crops.
If you take your time walking the path and reading the brochure provided on-site you’re sure to learn something new from Elden Pueblo!
Final Thoughts On Elden Pueblo Ruins
If you want my opinion, although it comes as no surprise, the Elden Pueblo Ruins are most definitely worth the stop. Of course they were worth it because I took the time to write a post on them! But I am always fascinated with ancient archeology and love sharing it with those who share the same fascination.
The ruins were much larger than what I had imagined they’d be. Especially with them being on the side of the road and free to access. Most ruins are either protected with entrance fees or deep in the wilderness, requiring you to work for it. Not only that but they were actually impressive too!
I hope you find interest in the Elden Pueblo Ruins and take time to visit and appreciate them next time you’re in Flagstaff. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been before or are planning a visit in the future!
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