Western Trips

Western Trips

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Homolovi Ruins State Park / Arizona



homolovi ruins state park
Homolovi I Ruins
Western Trips visited the historic ruins at the Homolovi Ruins State Park in the northeastern part of Arizona outside of Winslow.  Walk the grounds were ancestral Hopi once lived. This was once the site of a very large Native American settlement. The Homolovi Ruins were once the home to the Hisat'sinom (Anasazi) in the 14th century. Homolovi or Homol'ovi is a Hopi word meaning "place of the little hills".  The Homolovi ruins are now a center of both research and preservation.

Homolovi Ruins Excavation

A 1985 to 1987 survey of about 13 square miles in the Homolovi Ruins State Park has documented more than 300 prehistoric sites. The survey shows a higher site density than was expected and indicates the long term use of the middle Little Colorado River Valley. After a long time in acquiring the land and completing the improvements, the Homolovi Park was dedicated and officially opened to the public on May 22, 1993.


homolovi ruins
View from Homolovi Visitor Center
The site appears to have been continuously occupied by the Anasazi  sometime after 6000 BC. The first inhabitants were hunters and gatherers and lived in small, temporary campsites. Many centuries later, by 500 AD, the Anasazi became more sedentary and as such they built more permanent, semi-underground dwellings. At this time they began producing pottery. Sections of the site actually continued to be occupied  until about 1400-1500 AD. After that period the Ansazi, went back to the Hopi Mesa villages about 60 miles north of today's park. The major reason the Native people settled here at Homolovi was the availability of water from the Little Colorado River.

Ancient Pot Shards

The great ruins of Homolovi is covered with pot sherds just about everywhere. Fortunately for all of us the pot sherds for the most part have been left undisturbed by the visitors. You'll find them spread around the ground and in many instances placed on display on top of a flat rock. A major reason the park was created in the 1980's was to help protect the ruins and pot shards which were often vandalized.


anasazi ruins pot shards
Pot shards, Homolovi Ruins State Park
It appears that  people would come and dig on their own, find pots or sherds and sell them. The Hopi agreed that the creation of a state park at the site would help protect the ancient ruins as well as the pot shards. Taking pottery shards from the park is illegal. The park was established in direct  response to public concern about the devastation of the Homolovi sites by illegal collectors of prehistoric artifacts.

Homolovi Ruins State Park consists of four major pueblo sites, and as mentioned above inhabited by the Anasazi peoples sometime after 6000 B.C. and continuously between 1200 and 1425 A.D. The ruins are spread throughout the 340-acre park. On our Western Trips visit to the Homolovi Ruins State Park two of the ruins sites were opened for visitors. These were Homolovi ruins I and II.

Homolovi I

Homolovi I has a short loop trial going through the ruins. Most of these ruins are covered with soil to a large extent. There is a campground on the way to the ancient Homolovi I Ruins. The Homolovi I parking lot is located about one mile past the park campground and is next to the Little Colorado River.


homolovi park arizona
Kiva ruins, Homolovi II
Homolovi II

The trail at Homolovi II is also relatively short. This one is paved and should be wheelchair accessible. Homolovi II was a 1200 room village that at its peak housed 750 to 1000 people. 

Homolovi Ruins State Park is located fifty-five miles east of Flagstaff and just north of  Winslow. Arizona's Homolovi Ruins State Park has campsites, picnic areas and several excellent hiking trails. The park offers 52 RV sites and all except eight sites have electric hook ups. The Rv sites can accommodate vehicles up to 83 feet long.
There are around 52 RV sites and all but 8 sites have electric hookups. - See more at: http://www.thatsnotcamping.com/rv-camping-2/homolovi-state-park.html#sthash.Shd4E9l5.dpuf
There are around 52 RV sites and all but 8 sites have electric hookups. - See more at: http://www.thatsnotcamping.com/rv-camping-2/homolovi-state-park.html#sthash.Shd4E9l5.dpuf
There are around 52 RV sites and all but 8 sites have electric hookups. - See more at: http://www.thatsnotcamping.com/rv-camping-2/homolovi-state-park.html#sthash.Shd4E9l5.dpuf

Links to two additional Western Trips photo articles you'll enjoy are the Puye Cliff Dwellings located a short drive north of Santa Fe New Mexico and the Mesa Verde National Park cave dwellings in southwestern Colorado.

The Hopi people of today consider Homolovi, as well as other pre-Columbian sites in the southwest, to be part of their homeland. They continue to make pilgrimages to these sites, renewing the ties of the people with the land.

kiva ruins
Excavated kiva at Homolovi Ruins State Park
Another interesting historic site in the park is the cemetery of Sunset. Sunset was a Morman settlement established in 1876. The settlement had the distinction of having the first post office on the Little Colorado River and was near an important ford of the river. Sunset was abandoned in the 1880’s. What remains today are the headstones in the small cemetery.

Getting to the Homolovi Ruins State Park

Homolovi Ruins State Park is located on the north side of Interstate 40 in Winslow Arizona. It is also close to Arizona Hwy 87. Winslow is located about fifty-five miles east of Flagstaff Arizona and about 1oo miles west of the New Mexico state line.

(Photos are from author's private collection)


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