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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Solar Calendar and Petroglyphs at the V Bar V

The Solar Calendar at the V Bar V
The V-Bar-V Heritage Site is only open a few days a week, centered around weekends.  So even though we were camped nearby and drove by the V Bar V several times, we had to delay our visit until it opened on Friday.  We stopped my Montezuma's Well ( about 5 miles away) first because it opens at 8, and the V Bar V opens at 9.  After visiting Montezuma's Well, we drove back to take a look at what the V Bar V had to offer.
The V Bar V was an old ranch outfit along the banks of Beaver Creek, running cattle in the Verde Valley.  It has an amazing petroglyph panel that the owner kept protected for a number of years before arranging a deal with the Forest Service to open it up for visitors.  We checked in at the Visitor Center, showed them our National Parks Pass (a Red Rocks Pass works just as well), then wandered down the trail toward the petroglyphs.  This old chimney is all that's left of the old ranch house. 
The hike is about 1/4 mile one way, across level ground, with a very short incline right at the petroglyphs.  The sandstone outcrop has petroglyphs all over it.  It's a very dense collection of some outstanding petroglyphs. 
There is some discussion about what the petroglyphs mean, but since the Sinaguan creators have all passed from this life, I don't think we'll ever know exactly.  Although there are several theories out there, they all remain just that.  All of them conclude though that this was an important site. 
 Here's a close up of some of the petroglyphs. 
One of the docents at the site had a collection of pottery and artifacts that he had collected over the years, and the kids just couldn't wait to get their hands on some of it.  They each got to pick a piece of pottery to hold for a few minutes and were extremely thrilled about it.   One of the elements of the petroglyph panel is solar calendar that's on it.  The calendar works mid day about 1:00 as the sun comes over the top of the cliff and shines down the face past two marker stones.  It's only visible for about 5 minutes.  We were fortunate to be there for the occurrence.  It would definitely be cool to be there on a solstice or equinox to see the alignments then. 
The tour guide mentioned that he had hiking directions to Sacred Mesa a short distance down the road.  Yes please!  I picked up the directions from him and chatted a little bit about the area. Sometimes the best finds are ones that happen when your plans get changed.  The V Bar V was one of those finds for us.

Nearest City: Camp Verde/ Sedona, AZ
Location: N° W°
Time Needed: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: Coconino National Forest V Bar V Heritage Site website

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