Honanki Heritage Site – Sedona, Arizona

Honanki Heritage Site - Sedona, Arizona.jpegTour the Honanki Heritage Site Near Sedona

The Honanki Heritage Site is a fascinating area to visit if you are interested in ancient cultures. The Site is located near Sedona in north-central Arizona in an scenic and picturesque area. Honanki is one of the best preserved examples of Sinagua architecture and rock art in the West.

Honanki was originally occupied by the Sinagua from 1130 AD to 1280 AD. The Sinagua are ancestors of the Hopi people, and Honanki is considered a sacred site by their Native American descendants.

During their occupation of Honanki, the cliff dwellings contained some 60 rooms and featured an undetermined amount of rock art drawings. The Sinagua cooked, slept and crafted tools at their home here. They hunted deer, rabbit and other wildlife, gathered edible plants and even raised crops in the surrounding area.

Today the Honanki Heritage Site is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It is open to public tours daily in accordance with the Red Rock Pass Program. You can access the Site by driving there along Forest Road 525, which is usually always passable, or by parking and hiking in during wet conditions. If you have a 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicle, you may also access the Site from an alternate, scenic route via Boynton Pass Road. This route provides views of Sedona’s Red Rocks.  You may also visit Honanki during a jeep tour arranged at Sedona.

When you arrive at Honanki, you will need to stop by the information booth to sign in so the Forest Service can monitor Site usage. The volunteer staffing the booth will provide you with information about proper Honanki etiquette as well as advice about rattlesnakes you may encounter during the summer. You can then explore the accessible areas of Honanki Site on your own.

You will start out on a trail through a pinon-juniper forest that leads to the Honanki site. One of the first things you will notice when you get to the site is how high up some of the rock art is on the cliffs. It is difficult to imagine how the artists reached these heights, or why they felt they need to do so. Although much of the cliff dwelling area of Honanki is closed to the public, you can climb up to the impressive alcove to get a sense of how large the dwelling once was.

You’ll see more rooms as you travel further along the trail at the Site, and additional rock art images including depictions of humans. One image you will see is the round “shield” – a common, but mysterious Sinagua symbol. No one knows for sure what these symbols meant to the ancient Sinagua.

After touring the Site and viewing the ruins at Honanki, you’ll be left with a sense of how vibrant and populated the area once was. Honanki provides visitors with a rare opportunity to see an intriguing cliff dwelling and beautiful rock art, but it also allows provides a glimpse of what life must have been like here in the 12th and early 13th centuries.