The Southern Sinagua people started building large pueblos on hilltops and canyon alcoves in the area of present-day Cottonwood around A.D. 1150. These people lived primarily on a diet of corn supplemented with small game. They also mined and traded salt from a nearby salt mine. Their pottery was undecorated but made of highly polished brown clay, and they made stone tools and wove garments of cotton.
These people moved away by A.D. 1400, and we can only speculate on the reason. Overpopulation, climate change, conflict with other groups or even spiritual beliefs have all been suggested. Today, all we have are a few relics and the reconstructed ruins of Tuzigoot.
The pueblo consisted of around 100 rooms covering a short hill along the Verde River. It had fallen into a very bad state when the owner of the property, the copper mining company Phelps Dodge, sold the land to the U.S. government for $1. The Works Project Administration took on the project of excavating and reconstructing the ruins in 1934, and it became a national monument in 1939. The excellent exhibits in the visitor center and the picturesque ruins are very evocative and provide a great introduction to the Puebloan culture of the Southwest.
The nearby ruins of Montezuma Castle are a sister park that can be easily visited the same day.