A couple of years ago I posted about Chavez Pass and the Sinaqua and that post has proved to be a highly popular post. But one thing I didn’t go in detail about was the trail that runs through the pass known as the Chavez Pass Trail or simply as the Chavez Trail.
This trail existed in the last 35 years of the 19th century and it was not only well used but was also very important. It crossed the southern part of of Central Arizona’s Verde Valley linking Winslow on the Colorado Plateau to Prescott in the central Arizona highlands. Prescott was the location of a very import military installation known as Ft. Whipple. The trail was established in 1864 by US Army Colonel Francisco Chavez and it ran for 125 miles. Although somewhat rough and rocky in places the trail was relatively straight making travel rather easy for the times.
Winslow was known as “Sunset Crossing” at the time Chavez established the trail and what many don’t know is that the Chavez Trail was actually established over a much older trail which was an old Hopi and Sinaqua trail. That prehistoric trail is known as the Palatkwapi Trail. This prehistoric trail ran west through Chavez Pass, past Stoneman Lake, down along the Mogollon Rim, and to the Verde Valley. From the Verde Valley the old trail continued on past Montezuma’s Well to the present location of Camp Verde. It then went into the Black Hills and up through Copper Canyon to Ash Creek down into the Aqua Fria River and towards Prescott. The Chavez Trail was used mainly by locals but it also extended further and that was from Santa Fe, New Mexico all the way to Los Angeles, California.
Today if you drive the dirt road through Chavez Pass you are driving on or very near the prehistoric trail/Chavez Trail. If you stop along the way and get out and walk about you can find some small pieces of the prehistoric trail just south of the dirt road in some places and just north of it in others. Chavez Pass has been a popular hunting area over the years and not so long ago hunters were bringing trophy elk out of the pass and although it is basically known for that there is much, much more to Chavez Pass than meets the eye. It is an area with some amazing history and prehistory. Further, I also STRONGLY suspect that the area may well have many prehistoric sites some of which may turn our little theories upside down when and if ever found! Chavez Pass is an old, old area. I believe it has a prehistory far older than anyone suspects.