V Bar V Heritage Site

V Bar V Heritage Site is the most significant and one of the best preserved sites of ancient petroglyphs in the Verde Valley of Arizona—it’s also the largest known one in the state. More than 1,000 petroglyphs can be found in 13 different panels. These rock paintings and carvings are products of the Sinagua people, who were the western group of the Anasazi, or Ancient Pueblo Peoples. They date from the early to mid-twelfth century, and they became part of the “100 Place” Ranch; this would eventually become part of the historic V Bar B Ranch in 1927. The ranch had a long and colorful history, and it is now part of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and administered by the United States Forest Service.

Many of the glyphs at the V-V site, as it’s also called, are of animals like turtles, coyotes, and deer, all of which are called zoomorphs, and there are also stylized human figures and geometric designs. These Native American glyphs are archaeologically important because they are the only of this singular Beaver Creek style, because they are distinctly spaced, and because they do not overlap or have new characters that have been placed over them. There are petroglyph sites throughout the United States, from Hawaii and Alaska, to Massachusetts and Minnesota, but this particular site is considered one of the most significant.

The V Bar V Heritage Site lies in part of the Coconino National Forest, north of Sedona and west of Interstate 17, along which you will find the ancient pueblo ruins of Montezuma Castle and the sinkhole called Montezuma Well. You can easily get here from Sedona or Flagstaff, as the site is about halfway between the two. There is an excellent campground just before the turn off to the petroglyph site.

Opening hours of the V-V site vary, but it is open to visitors throughout the year, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. You can walk the loop path on your own, or guided tours, which give great history are insight into the area, are available as well. At the site is a parking lot, and a bit beyond this is the Visitors Center where there are toilets, a small gift shop, and a bookstore. If you haven’t brought your own water, you can purchase bottles at the Visitors Center. From here, you have an easy walk of about 15 minutes to Beaver Creek and the petroglyphs.

The Wet Beaver Wilderness that is also located in the Coconino National Forest offers swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing. There is no camping allowed within the national forest, but there is camping allowed near the Ranger Station. The Beaver River flows through this beautiful wilderness, which supports wildlife like bears, elk, deer, and mountain lions. This is a very popular place for outdoor recreation like hiking, fishing (the waters are stocked with trout), and swimming. There is a fee for entry, and overnight camping is not allowed is a good part of the area, but there are good camping areas nearby in areas managed by the Coconino National Forest. Coconino covers a huge area of almost 2 million acres, and has administrative office in Sedona, Happy Jack, and Flagstaff.

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