Palatki Indian Ruins, located just northwest of Sedona is one of the two largest cliff dwelling sites in Red Rock Country, and there is much evidence of the Sinagua civilization here. Free guided tours are available daily with a reservation.

In his book, The Call of Sedona, Ilchi Lee tells us, “According to the archaeologists who research ancient Native American sites, the Native Americans who lived in northern Arizona from thousands of years ago have long regarded Sedona and its surrounding Oak Creek Canyon as an especially sacred place. The Native American sites discovered here are not centered on Sedona, but encircle it. The Native Americans regarded this place as sacred land and lived outside Sedona, visiting it only when they were conducting rituals or religious ceremonies.”

Palatki Indian Ruins

Photo by Lynn A. Trombetta

Palatki Indian Ruins, located 13.5 miles (21.6 km) northwest of Sedona, is the remains of one such dwelling. One of the two largest cliff dwelling sites in the area, there is much evidence of the Sinagua civilization here. There are two main hikes departing from the small visitor center and both are short, climbing not much in elevation. Reservations and a Red Rock Pass are required, but there is no charge for the ranger-guided tour you will be given as you discover cliff dwellings and rock art. No pets are allowed at this site. For reservations call 928-282-3854.

How to get to Palatki Indian Ruins
Zero out your trip odometer and begin at the roundabout in Highway 179 known as the “Y” near Uptown Sedona. Allow about 45 minutes travel time from the “Y” if you are traveling by car, as opposed to an SUV or other more suitable vehicle.

Travel southwest toward Cottonwood 3.2 miles (5.1 km) to Dry Creek Road, where you will turn right. Drive to the stop sign at 6.1 miles (9.8 km) and turn left onto the paved road.

Drive 7.7 miles (12.3 km) to the fork in the road. The right fork goes to Enchantment Resort. Take the left fork, an unpaved road, FR 152C, to Boynton Pass. This road is quite rough and travel is slow if you are not in an SUV or other suitable vehicle. You’ll begin to feel like you are traveling into no man’s land, but there are signs to guide you at various points along the way, and surprisingly, cell phones work!

At 11.7 miles (18.7 km), turn right onto FR525. Just a short distance later, at 0.1 mile (0.16 km) from the last junction, turn right onto FR795 and go about two miles to the parking lot at 13.5 miles (21.6 km) on your trip odometer.

Check in at the visitor center to connect with your guide. The rest is easy: not only will your guide show you the way, he will fill you in on the rich history of the site and point out details you might otherwise have missed.

Note that the portion of the tour that leads up to the ruins requires a climb of about 60 rock steps. Walking sticks are available for adult use at the visitor center.


  • Reservation required. Guided trails open year round with tours 7 days a week. There is no fee.
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Rocky trail with some elevation change.
  • A Red Rock pass is mandatory.
  • Usage: Light, to moderate; scheduled tours only. There is ample parking (where you’ll find the only restroom facility).
  • Elevation gain: 50 feet.
  • Length: about 1.8 mile loop.
  • Facilities: yes – one restroom in parking area.
  • Pets not allowed.

Special Tips

  • Hiking shoes or boots and hats are recommended.
  • In springtime, the weather on the trail can be sunny and warm, or cold and blustery, so plan accordingly. In summer, this trail will be warm.
  • This trail is not recommended for very small children. A walking stick is a nice way to stabilize your balance along the way, but is not necessary.
  • Always take plenty of water, especially in warmer weather, and possibly a snack, but please remember, “Leave no trace” and take what you brought along home with you.
  • Take your camera and binoculars to capture the views.
  • Parking: Park in the first area to the right as you enter the area that leads to the visitor center.
  • Don’t visit the area without a reservation and stay on guided trails.

By Lynn A. Trombetta