The Honanki Heritage Site is a collection of rock art and cliff dwellings nestled within the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona. It was built by the Sinagua people between 1150-1350 AD and showcases the culture of these ancient people.
In this guide, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about visiting the Honanki Heritage Site.
Our Honanki Experience
We explored the Honanki Heritage Site when we visited Sedona in December 2021. During this trip, we rented a jeep and drove to this site because it’s only accessible by 4×4 vehicle. We then explored the site on our own via the self-guided trail. Read more about us.
Unlike other nearby sites, you don’t need a reservation to visit Honanki, but the roads leading to this historical site can be difficult to navigate. This guide will tell you everything you need to know including tips for your visit.
What Is The Honanki Heritage Site?
This large collection of well preserved cliff dwellings featuring numerous rock art was discovered within an isolated canyon near Sedona, Arizona. Archeologists believe the region was first occupied by the Sinagua who are known ancestors of the Hopi.
What makes Honanki unique is the fact the ruins were built directly against the canyon walls and well hidden behind trees. This site is estimated to contain about 72 rooms and 200 people in its prime.
The ruins are now run by the U.S. Forest Service under the Red Rock Program. But it was first described in 1895 by Walter Fewkes, a well known archeologist from the Smithsonian Institute.
Deeply interested in studying the lifestyle of the Hopi culture, Fawkes was a strong voice when it came to protecting indigenous sites. He named the site Honanki from the Hopi words meaning “badger house” but it’s noted the Hopi had no specific name for the area.
Further Reading: Best ruins in Sedona
Unlike the nearby Palatki Heritage Site, you don’t need to book a reservation in order to visit Honanki and you’ll only need one pass to enter:
You can buy a Red Rock Pass at this recreation.gov site in advance or by scanning a QR code with your smartphone on the sign located at each fee site. Other Red Rock sites have a kiosk in the parking lot where you can also purchase a pass, but we did not see one at Honanki.
Red Rock Pass options include:
- 1 Day – $5
- 7 Days – $15
- Annual Pass – $20
Travel Tip: There is very limited service at the Honanki Heritage Site so you may want to purchase your pass ahead of time to avoid any hassle when you arrive.
If you have an America the Beautiful Pass, you can use this instead of purchasing a red rock pass. We used our national park pass to visit the Honanki Heritage Site.
Don’t have a national park pass? Read our guide featuring why an America the Beautiful pass is one of the best things you can purchase if you plan to visit multiple parks in a year.
Hiking Tip: If you plan to hike additional trails around Sedona over a period of 2–7 days, you should buy the 7 day pass because you will need it at other trailheads in the area.
The Honanki Visitor Center is open 7 days a week from 9:30am to 3:00pm. The site is closed on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Visitors can explore the short hiking trails around the ruins including several interpretive exhibits. Available services include vault toilets.
Unfortunately, no pets are allowed beyond the parking lot. Please be mindful of the warm temperatures if you are planning to leave your pet in a vehicle.
How To Get To The Honanki Heritage Site
This heritage site is located in a remote red rock canyon about 2.5 hours north of Phoenix and 1.5 hours south of Flagstaff. Many people visit Honanki along with other historical sites in the area as part of a day trip from Sedona or Cottonwood.
- Address: 11450 N Loy Butte Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336
- Location: Google Maps
Forest Rd 525 leading to the Honanki Site from both Cottonwood and Sedona is a very rough gravel road, especially the last few miles. A vehicle with good clearance and 4WD is required.
Because Honanki is farther out compared to some of the heritage sites, we recommend combining your visit with a hike, a 4×4 off road trail or a visit to Palatki. You should plan on extra time when visiting this site and leave 30-60 minutes of fudge time because you will have to drive slowly to reach the parking lot.
Travel Tip: Harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow and extreme temperatures over 100°F will close Honanki. If it’s closed, you will see closed signs at access points along the road.
We rented a Jeep in Sedona in order to reach remote spots like Honanki. However, if you don’t want to rent a jeep you have another option to take a tour with Pink Adventure Tours.
The Pink Jeep Tours Company is the official Honanki Heritage Site steward. Here are a few popular options for jeep tours in the area:
- Pink Jeep tour of Honanki
- Outlaw Trail Jeep Tour
- Sedona Outback Trail Jeep Adventure
- Tours originating in Phoenix and Scottsdale
Make sure you read the descriptions of the tours so you know exactly where they go.
Here are directions to Honanki from Sedona and Cottonwood.
Directions from Sedona:
- Head south on N State Rte 89A towards Forest Rd and at the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto W Arizona 89A to continue straight. Stay on W Arizona 89A for 9.6 miles and then right onto Forest 525 Rd (you have now reached the rough dirt road).
- Follow Forest 525 Rd for 6.0 miles and make a slight left to stay on Forest 525 Rd. Stay on this road for another 1.2 miles until you reach the intersection with Red Canyon Road. Turn right to stay on Forest 525 Rd and continue another 3.1 miles until you reach the Honanki parking lot.
Directions From Cottonwood:
- Take 89A north from Cottonwood for about 7.0 miles. Turn left onto Forest 525 Rd (this is the rough dirt road) about 0.5 miles north of mile marker 364.
- Follow Forest 525 Rd for 6.0 miles and make a slight left to stay on Forest 525 Rd. Stay on this road for another 1.2 miles until you reach the intersection with Red Canyon Road.
- Turn right to stay on Forest 525 Rd and continue another 3.1 miles until you reach the Honanki parking lot.
Nearby Outlaw Trail
The Honanki Heritage Site is located directly across the road from where the 4×4 off-road Outlaw trail begins. Unfortunately, this makes for a dangerous combination with pedestrians and OTVs.
Please be extremely careful in the parking lot of the Honanki Heritage Site. Many OTVs will speed up Forest 525 Rd throwing stones and dirt from their wheels in all directions. We saw a few close calls between OTVs and pedestrians trying to access the site.
Self-Guided Loop Trail
There is a 0.6 mile self-guided loop trail at the Honanki Heritage Site. Many interpretive signs can be found along the trail explaining how the pueblos were built and how the Sinagua people lived.
The loop begins at the small visitor information booth. But before you start, a forest service employee or volunteer will give you a brief overview of the area and information about the ruins.
Shortly after you pass the information booth, the trail will split at a junction. You can choose to go either right or left at the junction but it does not matter as the trail loops back around to this exact spot.
We took the left and walked in a clock-wise direction and the trail pointed us north towards Loy Butte. After walking for a short distance, you will then reach the base of a large cliff.
There is a small spur trail which climbs to a viewpoint beneath a cliff dwelling. From this location, you will also be able to see some fantastic rock art.
Next, you will follow the trail directly along the base of the cliff. You will pass several dwellings which have been built directly into the overhangs.
Don’t Miss The Rock Art
If you look closely, you will notice many pictographs and petroglyphs above or within the cliff dwellings. There is a small climb required to reach the final dwelling but it’s easily doable.
As you wander through the trail you pass by bushes, pinyon pines and juniper trees making this a great place to briefly escape the hot Sedona sun. Be sure to read some of the interpretive signs too.
Archeologists estimate some of this rock art dates back as early as 5000 BC. We won’t get into any more detail to save some surprises for your visit.
After you have seen the rock art and numerous cliff dwellings, make your way along the loop trail back to the junction and information booth.
If you have any more questions about the Honanki ruins or the area in general, be sure to ask the staff as they are extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
Best Time To Visit
Spring and fall would be the best time to visit Honanki when temperatures are cool. Arizona summer days are extremely hot ranging anywhere from 95°F to 110°F. Very heavy rains are common late June to early August during the early afternoon. It’s important to drink plenty of water and hydrate properly, especially in the summer months.
The Honanki Heritage Site is open year round. We visited Sedona in December and the weather was perfect for hiking at about 60°F. Visiting in the off season also meant fewer crowds.
Winter days in Arizona tend to have an average temperature of around 60°F with lows commonly in the teens. Snowfall is rare but is possible. Forest Rd 525 may be impassible in bad weather so be sure to check the weather forecast when you visit and plan appropriately.
We have lost much of this site due to human recklessness. Here are a few important etiquette tips to consider for your visit:
- No sitting, climbing or standing on ruins or cliff dwelling walls. Ruins are fragile and any of these actions will compromise the site.
- Never touch artifacts. These are important items that should remain exactly where they are located.
- No camping at historical sites. Fires can destroy prehistoric organic materials and also covers the rock art with soot. Check out the DYRT PRO for nearby camping options.
- Stay on marked trails. It’s important not to venture off the trails because our footsteps can destroy fragile ecosystems.
- No graffiti. This destroys rock art and is extremely disrespectful to the cultures who created these wonderful images.
The best advice we can give you is to visit early in the day to avoid the heat and crowds. While most of this area is shaded, early morning will make for a much more enjoyable visit.
Hiking Tip: When exploring outdoors, be sure to always practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace to preserve natural beauty so others can enjoy the same environments.
Honanki Or Palatki?
Personally, we preferred Palatki over Honanki. We had a knowledgeable tour guide at Palatki who was very funny. We liked that you could explore on your own at Honanki, but we felt like we missed information.
But you need a reservation for Palatki which means you will have to plan ahead and this may be a limitation for some visitors. Both ruins are located on Forest Road 525 and you will need to have a high clearance vehicle.
Further Reading: How to visit the Palatki Heritage Site
Honanki is a heritage site located near Sedona, Arizona. We think this is one of the best things to do in Sedona because it showcases indigenous history. The free entry with an America the Beautiful Pass coupled with the remote location makes this an adventure many people enjoy.
Is Honanki worth it?
Yes, the Honanki Heritage Site is worth visiting because it offers a fascinating glimpse into indigenous cultures. We learned how previous civilizations prepared meals, raised their families and learned to survive the harsh desert climates.
If you have plenty of time in your Sedona itinerary, try to visit both the Honanki and Palatki Heritage Site as they are located very close to each other. But if you’re short on time, Honanki might not be worth your effort due to its remote location.
More Historic Sites In Sedona
- How to visit Montezuma Castle + Well
- Complete guide to Tuzigoot National Monument
- What to see at the Palatki Heritage Site
- 5 unmissable ruins near Sedona, AZ
More From Sedona
- 20 Sedona hikes to add to your bucket list
- 20 best things to do in Sedona, Arizona
- 9 epic jeep trails near Sedona
- How to spend the 1-7 days in Sedona
- 15 Sedona sunrise and sunset spots
- 7 cool caves to find near Sedona
- Where to stay when visiting Sedona
Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona Travel Guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.
We hope this guide to the Honanki Heritage Site near Sedona helps with planning your visit!
Please let us know if you have any questions about visiting the Honanki Heritage Site or your trip to Sedona in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.
Where Are Those Morgans has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications. Read more about us.