Discover the historical past and tradition of the American Southwest

Discover the historical past and tradition of the American Southwest

The wealthy historical past and heritage of the Southwest is ripe for exploration – whether or not it’s visiting fascinating ruins, vibrant museums, and artwork galleries, or just absorbing the solar within the Sonoran Desert. Right here, heat folks and distinctive traditions are nestled inside a number of the most assorted and charming landscapes in the US.

Ranging from Phoenix, an epic highway journey by way of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico can take you to particular locations the place historical past, tradition, and spirituality intersect. This itinerary connects locations vital to the resident Native American tribes, the place you’ll be able to study concerning the traditions of the Navajo, Sinagua and Pueblo. You’ll additionally go to cliff dwellings and petroglyphs for perception into the lives and cultures of the traditional indigenous communities. And also you’ll even journey alongside components of Route 66, offering a connection to highway journeys of the previous.

Ensure that to take your time. Native, Spanish, Mexican, and American traditions have come collectively to create a wealthy tapestry of heritage – one which rewards unhurried exploration and aware appreciation.

A Native American performer participates within the annual powwow on the Heard Museum in Phoenix © Vicki L. Miller / Shutterstock

Hit the highway in Phoenix

With its year-round sunny climate, vibrant metropolis life, and quick access to the area, Phoenix is the proper start line for a cultural highway journey of the Southwest. However earlier than you hit the highway, there’s a lot to see and do within the metropolis itself.

The world-renowned Heard Museum showcases the artwork, tradition, and historical past of the Southwest’s Native American communities, together with the Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo tribes. Not distant is the Pueblo Grande Museum, an archaeological website and museum, which supplies a glimpse into the lives of the traditional Hohokam individuals who lived within the Phoenix space greater than 1,000 years in the past.

The Musical Instrument Museum affords an immersive have a look at various musical traditions from world wide © DreamArt123 / Shutterstock

Additionally in Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum is a must-visit for music lovers. With greater than 6,000 devices organized in regional galleries together with the Expertise gallery the place friends could make music themselves, it affords an immersive have a look at various musical traditions from world wide. From historical devices to trendy masterpieces, MIM showcases the artwork, science, and historical past of musical expression.

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Montezuma Fort well-preserved cliff dwellings that provide a glimpse into the lives of the Sinagua folks © John Burcham / Lonely Planet

The drive: From Phoenix head north on I-17 about 116 miles towards Sedona (two hours). Alongside the best way, cease by Montezuma Fort, well-preserved cliff dwellings that provide a glimpse into the lives of the Sinagua individuals who lived within the space over 700 years in the past. One other excellent place to stretch your legs, just a few miles off I-17, is Jerome – this former mining city turned eclectic artist neighborhood is perched on a steep hill with stupendous views of the Verde Valley and is among the most original cities within the Southwest.

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The long-lasting Cathedral Rock formation is taken into account one of the highly effective vortexes in Sedona © John Burcham / Lonely Planet

Non secular success in Sedona

For a lot of, Sedona is a religious haven as a result of presence of highly effective power vortexes that may be felt all through the realm. Whether or not that’s true or not, while you’re surrounded by huge pink rock formations, majestic canyons, and the glistening waters of Oak Creek, Sedona affords an opportunity to attach with nature in a profound manner.

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Sedona is a spot the place you’ll be able to join with your self and discover a sense of peace and renewal © John Burcham / Lonely Planet

Whether or not you are all for meditation, yoga, psychic readings, or different types of modality – or just taking a hike by way of the magnificent surroundings – Sedona is a spot the place you’ll be able to join with your self and discover a sense of peace and renewal. Non secular seekers flock right here for the numerous wellness spas, which purport to harness the pure power of the vortexes and create transformative experiences. One such operator is Sedona Soul Adventures, which practices intentional therapeutic – magnifying religious power to spice up the restoration and renewal course of.

Different religious websites embrace the Chapel of the Holy Cross – Constructed into the pink rock formations, the chapel affords panoramic views and is a spot of peaceable reflection and contemplation for guests of all beliefs. Close by, the enduring Cathedral Rock formation is taken into account one of the highly effective vortexes in Sedona. Bell Rock is one more well-known rock formation and is taken into account to have intense radiating power.

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Honanki Heritage Website is among the largest and best-preserved cliff dwellings within the space © John Burcham / Lonely Planet

Native People have an extended and vital historical past on this space as nicely, and you’ll nonetheless see the stays of a whole bunch of years of habitation. Tuzigoot Nationwide Monument options the remnants of a pueblo village constructed by the Sinagua folks greater than 900 years in the past and a deep look into the cultural historical past of the area. Two close by historical cliff dwellings are additionally fascinating: the Palatki Heritage Website options well-preserved petroglyphs and pictographs, and the stays of rooms carved into the cliff face, and the Honanki Heritage Website is among the largest and best-preserved cliff dwellings within the space. Lastly, Verde Valley Archaeology Middle and Museum has artifacts relationship again 800 years, from most of the historical websites round Sedona.

The drive: Proceed on 89A North towards Flagstaff (30 miles, about an hour), then proceed on 89 North and 160 West to Tuba Metropolis (78 miles, an hour and a half).

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Wupatki Nationwide Monument has multi-story construction relationship to the twelfth century © John Burcham / Lonely Planet

Magnificence, historical past, and tradition within the Arizona desert

The drive between Sedona, Flagstaff and Tuba Metropolis options a number of noteworthy stops alongside the best way. Don’t miss Walnut Canyon Nationwide Monument, a historic website close to Flagstaff that accommodates the stays of an historical Sinagua settlement, full with cliff dwellings and different architectural buildings. Additionally close to Flagstaff is the Wupatki Nationwide Monument, that includes the ruins of historical Puebloans, together with a big multi-story construction relationship to the twelfth century.

Because you’re within the neighborhood, cease at close by Sundown Crater Volcano Nationwide Monument, to see how an eruption almost 1,000 years in the past left behind distinctive geological formations and destroyed historical buildings constructed by native peoples.

The Painted Desert will get its identify from the numerous colours filling the panorama © Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock

Did you want Sedona? You then gained’t consider the Painted Desert. Situated close to Tuba Metropolis and spanning greater than 160 miles, the Painted Desert will get its identify from the numerous colours filling the panorama, from shades of grey to vibrant oranges and pinks. The terrestrial vistas could possibly be from a Mars film set, with its sea of hilly crevices and barren surfaces. 

The drive: From Tuba Metropolis, flip East and head into Colorado by way of US-160 (200 miles, a bit of over three hours)

Mesa Verde Nationwide Park is the house of the Ancestral Puebloans, who inhabited the realm from 600 to 1300 AD © MarclSchauer / Shutterstock

Puebloan historical past in Mesa Verde Nationwide Park

Mesa Verde Nationwide Park, Colorado – with its towering cliffs, rolling mesas, and dramatic views – is a surprising panorama for guests. However it is usually the house of the Ancestral Puebloans, who inhabited the realm from 600 to 1300 AD and constructed elaborate cliff dwellings and villages all through the area. As we speak the park affords a novel alternative to find out about their historical past, tradition, and religious beliefs, and their wealthy traditions of artwork, structure, and neighborhood.

The Pueblo folks believed in a pantheon of spirits centered on nature and its forces, and held ceremonies and rituals to honor these spirits. Additionally they had a novel architectural fashion, that mirrored the Pueblo folks’s connection to the pure world.

The end result was multi-story cliff dwellings and pueblos manufactured from stone and dirt – buildings that have been each practical and aesthetic.

Kachinas dolls (carved picket figures) play an essential position in conventional ceremonies of the Navajo © Malachi Jacobs / Shutterstock

Lots of the traditions of the previous can nonetheless be seen within the varied Native American communities of right now. Pottery making methods have maintained intricate, colourful, and distinct designs for generations. Kachinas dolls (carved picket figures) play an essential position in conventional ceremonies, that are held a number of instances a 12 months along with the harvest seasons. Rug- and jewelry-making methods have additionally been handed down and are shared by most tribes.

To see and expertise these native traditions for your self, go to the Notah-Dineh Buying and selling Co. & Museum in close by Cortez, Colorado.

The drive: From Mesa Verde journey east on 160, then south on 140. Throughout the New Mexico border the highway turns into 170. Then, head east on 574/550 towards Chaco Canyon. Alongside the best way, keep at Blue Lake Ranch, simply south of Hesperus off 140. For the ultimate method to Chaco Canyon, you’ll observe a rugged filth highway for about 20 miles, however when you’re within the park the roads are paved.

Chaco Canyon was a hub of spiritual and commerce actions from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries © Avi Farber / Lonely Planet

Mysterious archaeology at Chaco Canyon

Situated in northwestern New Mexico, Chaco Canyon is house to a different Ancestral Puebloan civilization, and was a hub of spiritual and commerce actions from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Website in 1987, the park is taken into account one of the essential archaeological websites within the U.S. It’s house to a number of well-preserved buildings, together with the well-known Pueblo Bonito, a multi-story dwelling with greater than 800 rooms.

To at the present time there are lots of unanswered questions on Chaco Canyon – most notably, why did the Ancestral Puebloans settle in an space with no water, vegetation, assets or wildlife?

Talus Home Cliff Dwelling is one in all many well-preserved historical buildings at Bandelier Nationwide Monument © Avi Farber / Lonely Planet

Together with the historical past on show, the park additionally affords climbing trails, scenic drives, and ranger-led packages. Think about tenting to soak up the darkish skies – ranger-led actions embrace an astronomy viewing program with telescopes supplied.

The drive: Take I-25 North to Santa Fe, 180 miles, 3.5 hours. On the best way, cease by Bandelier Nationwide Monument. This park options extra of the well-preserved properties and villages of the ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area. Highlights embrace the Alcove Home, a multi-room construction constructed right into a cliff face, and the Tyuonyi Pueblo, which is a big, multi-story village.

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Kimmy Rohrs of Whiskey and Clay makes pottery in her studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico © Avi Farber / Lonely Planet

A vibrant mixture of tradition in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a metropolis steeped in historical past and tradition. Based within the early 1600s, it’s the oldest capital metropolis in the US, with deeply intertwined traditions stemming from Spanish, Mexican, and Native American roots. As we speak, Santa Fe can be recognized for its extraordinary arts and culinary scenes, together with world-class museums, galleries and eating places.

Initially a Pueblo Indian footpath and later the principle avenue by way of a Spanish farming neighborhood, Santa Fe’s most well-known artwork avenue launched into its present incarnation within the Twenties. As we speak Canyon Highway is a prime attraction, holding greater than 100 of Santa Fe’s 300-plus galleries. The epicenter of the town’s vibrant artwork scene, it affords the whole lot from uncommon Native American antiquities to Santa Fe College masterpieces and in-your-face trendy work.

A separate cluster of fantastic museums awaits on Museum Hill, a brief drive to the southeast. It’s house to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Artwork; the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; the Santa Fe Botanical Backyard; and the Worldwide Folks Artwork Market, however the crown jewels of the gathering are the Museum of Indian Arts & Tradition and Museum of Worldwide Folks Artwork. The previous traces the origins and historical past of the assorted Native American peoples of your entire Southwest, whereas the latter shows whimsical and mind-blowing objects from greater than 100 totally different nations.

Santa Fe can be house to a number of historic landmarks, together with the San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the US, and the Palace of the Governors, a museum housed in a constructing that has served because the seat of presidency for the state of New Mexico for greater than 400 years. Whether or not you are all for historical past, artwork, or cultural experiences, Santa Fe is a necessary cease.

Acoma Pueblo sits atop the 357ft Acoma Rock. It is one of many oldest frequently inhabited communities within the US © Avi Farber / Lonely Planet

Prolong your journey

If you happen to’re prepared for much more cultural explorations, take into account these websites, only a day journey away from Santa Fe:

Canyon de Chelly is taken into account sacred by the Navajo, who’ve lived within the space for hundreds of years and see it as a spot of religious energy and cultural significance. Acknowledged as one of many longest frequently inhabited landscapes in North America, right now you’ll be able to see pueblo ruins constructed between 350 and 1300 AD, in addition to a up to date Navajo neighborhood that also inhabits the canyon ground. The canyon can be house to a number of Navajo-owned and operated tour corporations, comparable to Canyon De Chelly Excursions, which supply explorations of Navajo tradition, historical past, and spirituality.

Acoma Pueblo Potter Stephanie Patricio/Nez © Avi Farber / Lonely Planet

Acoma Pueblo (also referred to as Sky Metropolis) is one other one of many oldest repeatedly inhabited communities in the US, relationship again greater than a thousand years. The pueblo is constructed atop a mesa rising greater than 360 ft above the panorama, with gorgeous views of the encompassing mountains and desert. A decent-knit neighborhood of Native American residents follow their conventional customs and beliefs right here, and guests can tour the pueblo, attend occasions and festivals, and buy conventional artwork from native distributors.