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This Wupatki ceremony pit is part of the Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff. There are many other well-preserved ruins throughout the Arizona highlands, including those at Montezuma’s Castle, Tuzigoot, Palatiki, Honanki and V Bar V Heritage site, all within a one- to two-hour drive of Payson.

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I sit in the sandstone ruins tucked beneath a Sierra Ancha cliff face as the sun dies, dabbing idly at the drip of blood on my arm. I put my finger to my tongue and taste the iron. It would make good paint — outlive me by 1,000 years — if I had a little prickly pear juice and some nice, crushed hematite.

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