Ruins Seldom Seen
By Dave Wilson

Articles featuring 'Ruins Seldom Seen'


The book Ruins Seldom Seen contains detailed directions, including maps and GPS coordinates, for hiking to 36 ancient Native American pueblos, cliff dwellings and rock art sites located off the beaten path in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Trips range from very easy day hikes to difficult overnight backpacks.

Each chapter also includes interpretive information such as which Indians left behind the archaeological site, the dates it was used, what purpose it served, and anything else interesting I could find out. My research comes from scientific literature, interviews with archaeologists, contact with park and forest rangers, and other sources, as well as my own observations while visiting and hiking to each archaeological site.

The full title of the book is actually Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen, but that doesn’t sound nearly as catchy so I often leave off the word “Hiking.” At any rate, Ruins Seldom Seen was published in 1999 by Falcon Press (now owned by Globe Pequot Press). The second edition was released in spring 2011. The second edition includes five all-new hikes (to make up for five hikes that had to be cut). It also includes updated route information. This is very important, as many roads and trails have changed, some quite dramatically, over the past decade. Yes, I actually re-took every hike to see first-hand what has changed since the 1990s.

First Edition, 1999


Second Edition, 2011

Criteria for an Archaeological
Site to Be in the Book

The criteria for an archaeological site to be featured in the book are as follows:

1) The site should be in a good enough state of preservation that it’s still interesting to see.

2) The site should be remotely located enough that it makes a good hiking destination.

3) There should be no significant modern development in or around the site (e.g., fences, sidewalks, roads) or interpretive guides stationed at the site. In short, when you're there you're on your own.

4) The site should belong to one of the agriculturally based "high cultures" that thrived in the Southwest from roughly the year zero to A.D. 1400 (e.g., the Hohokam, Verde Hohokam, Solado, Anchan, Ancestral Pueblo, Gallina Phase).

5) The site must be on public land such as a National Forest, National Park, BLM land, etc. The entire hiking route to reach the site must also be on public land. (This is the only criteria that comes more from my publisher than from myself, as I'm rarely beyond trespessing if the land owner claims a gazillion acres all for themselves. But from my publisher's point of view this criteria is certainly understandable).

Finding archaeological sites in general was surprisingly easy, but after running them through ALL FIVE of the above criteria, I was left with relatively few candidates for my hiking book. In fact, finding adequate sites was so challenging that in some cases I got a little liberal with the criteria. In a few cases, for example, little hiking is required to reach the archaeological site. However, I did the best I could with the amount of time I had for this project (yes, even hiking book authors have deadlines). While some ruins and rock art sites in the book may be a little more “seldom seen” than others, all of them are interesting, basically off the beaten path, and offer great opportunities for outdoor recreation with an enhanced sense of discovery.

Where to Find the Book

Ruins Seldom Seen is available in major bookstores such as Borders Books and Barnes & Noble, and at many outdoor stores such as REI.  It’s also available from many online sources, including the publisher’s website at www.GlobePequot.com.

Again, the second edition was released in spring 2011. As you view the photographs throughout this website, note whether the sites that interest you most are in the first edition only, second edition only, both editions, or not in the book at all.

The Book Has More Information
Than This Website

Again, this website is not a substitute for the book, as it does not provide directions to the archaeological sites nor much interpretive information. However, this website does feature more photographs than the book, including outtakes that did not make it into the first or second editions, and even photos of ruins and rock art sites not featured in the book at all.


Feel free to email me at DaveWilsonImages@aol.com