Shoofly Village Archaeological Ruins offers visitors a self-guided tour back into another era. At one time, the Rim Country was home to probably 1,000 different sites, the very heart of the prehistoric cultures in the Southwest. The people who lived in the Rim country -- known variously as Mogollons, Ancient Ones or Bunheads -- were literally surrounded by the Sinagua to the north, the Anasazi to the northeast, the Mogollon to the southeast, the Salado to the south, and the Hohokam to the southwest.

The Shoofly Indian Ruins were believed to have been occupied between A.D. 1000-1250. At an elevation of 5,240 feet, Shoofly Village once had a total of 79 structures of which the rock outlines, once the base of the walls, are still visible. At the center of this site is where a larger structure once existed, believed to have been a building with 26 rooms averaging 37.4 square meters each, and part of this structure was perhaps two stories high. In clusters around the core area were 39 smaller structures and 14 more were scattered about the general area and at least one of these structures had a curved wall. The entire compound of approximately 3.75 acres (1.5 hectares) is enclosed by a small rock fence.. 

Located atop the northern edge of Houston Mesa, the immediate area is comprised of grassland and sparsely populated with Juniper and Chaparral. The average annual rainfall for the area is about 20 inches. Shoofly Village Ruins is easily accessible...a mere 100 yards off Houston Mesa road (all paved).


This site was first recorded in 1930 by archaeologist John Hughes but full scale excavations did not occur until 1984. These excavations were conducted by Dr. Charles Redman from Arizona State University, as a field school program, over a four year period. More excavations are being considered. 

The people who once occupied the Shoofly Village appeared to have been similar to those who once occupied the Flagstaff, Arizona area and also the Sinaqua from the Upper Verde Valley but with notable differences. It is believed the Shoofly residents possibly had, or once had, Hohokam ties. As both farmers and hunters, they grew corn, beans, squash, possibly cotton and successfully hunted deer, elk, rabbits, rodents, birds, and migratory fowl (ducks and geese). It is also believed they may have raised turkeys (wild turkeys are indigenous to the area). Their brown clay pottery were mostly jar-shaped vessels but were not decorated with designs. The decorated pottery found was believed to have come from the Little Colorado and Flagstaff areas. The arrowheads located were very small, less than an inch long (likely arrowhead hunters over the years found the bigger ones).

Directions to the Shoofly Indian Ruins:

Take Highway 87 north from Payson to Houston Mesa Road and turn east. The parking lot is a short distance beyond the Mesa del Caballo subdivision just off the paved road. Picnic tables, ramadas, and toilet facilities are provided. 

© 2020 - Town of Payson 
Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department
1000 W. Country Club Dr.

Payson, AZ 85541  |  928-472-5110

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