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Discover Ancient Sedona Culture at These National Parks and Monuments

Adventure awaits you at this desert destination

The Vacationeer
A rainstorm at sunset in the desert landscape of Lomaki Pueblo Ruins in Wupakti National Monument near Sedona, Arizona

If you’re craving adventure, you’re not the only one. This year, travelers are flocking to vacations that offer excitement and education, from expedition cruises to citizen science trips and volunteering.

In Sedona, Arizona, it’s easy to combine adventure with history. Below the surface of Sedona’s red rock beauty are remnants of ancient cultures that called the lush Sedona Verde Valley home. These artifacts and etchings are now on display across museums and natural sites, hinting at the way these people lived.

Travel to various must-see national parks and monuments near Sedona and, with some imagination — or a helpful tour guide — step into the past at these five Sedona attractions.

Wupakti National Monument

Sunset at Wukoki Pueblo ruin in Wupatki National Monument near Sedona, Arizona 

Nomadic early inhabitants lived light on the land, hunting large fauna and gathering berries, wild grapes and other foraged goods. While archaeologists have discovered artifacts on ledges in the red rock areas of Sedona, the best place to dig into this early culture is at Wupatki National Monument, an hour's drive by interstate from Sedona.

Wupakti was home to numerous groups of people for thousands of years, including the ancestors of contemporary Pueblo communities. Discover the bounty available to these ancient peoples — more than 240 plant species grow in the area. Early people used these plants as food and fibers for clothing, baskets, paints and other useful items.

Visit the museum to see artifacts up close, walk to centuries-old pueblos that housed thousands and see what was for dinner way back when.

For the adventurous, take a ranger-guided hike, which offers the only public access to parts of the monument, and enjoy scenic views of the Painted Desert, one of the many picture-perfect views of Sedona.

Tuzigoot National Monument

Rocky ruins of Tuzigoot National Monument near Sedona, Arizona 

Go inside a hilltop pueblo when you visit the sprawling site at Tuzigoot National Monument, less than 19 miles west of Sedona Summit, a Hilton Vacation Club.

Climb to the top of the Tuzigoot pueblo for a panoramic view of the Verde Valley. Snap some Insta-worthy photos of your friends and family from below as they wave to you from its towering height.

When you descend, meander through the park's museum. Giant water pots, spear points and arrowheads are just some of the many items on display. Check out the centuries-old fabrics and jewelry, where intricate designs bear witness to ancient fashions.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle, a national monument of an ancient Native American society that built a city into the side of a rock face, near Sedona, Arizona 

Montezuma Castle National Monument is a stunning 20-room high-rise nestled into a sheer cliff face. Wander along the paved, accessible trail to view the pueblo from several angles, and spot some of the native species that call this area home, such as desert cottontails, elk, desert spiny lizards and great blue herons.

This site was the third national monument dedicated in the U.S. in 1906 and, since then, has served as an epicenter for archaeology in Arizona. Tour the museum to see a variety of artifacts — from tools, basketry, pottery and more — that tell the story of how the Sinagua people lived in the desert.

Stay just 20 minutes from Montezuma Castle and other incredible Sedona sites at Ridge on Sedona, a Hilton Vacation Club.

Montezuma Well

Just north of Montezuma Castle is Montezuma Well, an ancient aquifer that serves as an oasis in the Verde Valley. This desert destination is home to several ruins, from dwellings overlooking the well to a pit house, hilltop pueblo, and a cool, shady cave along the well's shoreline.

Montezuma Well has no entrance fees, so everyone can enjoy prime bird-watching opportunities and identify plants along the loop trail (with some help from interpretative signage). With high carbon dioxide and arsenic levels, the well is closed to swimmers and anglers, but five species of water creatures are found here and nowhere else in the world.

Grand Canyon National Park

Landscape of the Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River from Desert View Point 

What would any trip to Arizona be without a visit to one of the Seven Wonders of the World? Take a day trip from Sedona to tour Grand Canyon National Park. Although it seems desolate, various cultures have occupied the Grand Canyon for 12,000 years, and a survey of just 5% of the canyon yielded 4,300 archaeological resources.

Tap into the canyon's cultural history at venues, such as the Desert View Watchtower, along the 13-mile Rim Trail. When your feet get tired, ride a free shuttle bus to your next stop or back to your car.

Insider tip: Getting an America the Beautiful Annual National Parks Pass can be a low-cost way to see multiple attractions when you travel. Try an epic road trip through Arizona for the most bang for your buck. If you're touring America's most picturesque places this year, stay with Hilton Grand Vacations for convenient, spacious suites and your home base for adventure.

Read “More Than Just Vacations: Why Two Childhood Friends Chose Hilton Grand Vacations Timeshare” and discover how you can prioritize travel with loved ones to memorable places with Hilton Grand Vacations.


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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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