The hike to Keet Seel ruin takes you up the long and sandy Tsegi Canyon trail. If it’s summer, and the monsoons have been active, then small waterfalls may be running along the way. Wildflowers bloom in yellow and purple, and puffy bright clouds drift overhead. Without warning a pocket of quicksand could grab your boots. Forge on anyway, a treasure awaits you. The 17-mile round-trip is a commitment of both planning and physical endurance. The experience is best as an overnight backpack trip.
When you finally see the abandoned village, you will have been transported back to the late-1200s. The alcove has a street of gracefully offset, multistoried structures. You may feel that you are now alive in AD 1286 when the last of the 160 rooms was completed. The authentic ancient pots on a wall are well protected by a vertigo-inducing, 70-foot ladder that leads in and out of the ruin site.
This photo appears in Arizona Highways magazine (Jan. ’16)