Science

Ecology Overview

Homolovi State Park is located in northeastern Arizona near the town of Winslow. It features three main pueblo ruins, a campground, and picnic area. The park is located on high grassland plains and has four hiking trails available to the public.

The vegetation of Homolovi is quite different than most other Arizona State Parks. It is high desert grassland with few trees. Common plants in the park include snakeweed (Gutierrezia spp.), ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), saltbush (Atriplex spp.), prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), yucca sp., rabbitbrush (Ericameria sp.), sage (Artemisia spp.), and ephedra sp.. Many native bunch grasses provide forage and habitat such as alkali sacaton (Sporobolus sp.), galleta grass (Pleuraphis sp.), grama (Bouteloua sp.), and needle and thread grass (Hesperostipa sp.).

Animals that make their home in Homolovi include the black-tailed prairie dog. These furry rodents may live in colonies covering 100 acres or more and including up to 1000 animals. They have an elaborate security system consisting of warning barks which travel quickly among the group as danger approaches. One may see a few standing erect outside of their burrows warning others before fleeing into the safety of their underground homes. (From http://dana.ucc.nau.edu/~are-p/road_map/eco/gr.html) Other animals seen in the park include elk (Cervus canadensis) during the winter, porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), mountain lion (Puma concolor), and cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus). Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are just one of the many avian species that make their home in the park.

Like many areas of Arizona, Homolovi State Park is also home to non-native plants and animals. These non-native species arrive in a variety of ways; some species have been accidentally introduced and humans introduced some purposefully. Tumbleweed (Salsola spp.), camelthorn (Alhagi maurorum), halogeten (Halogeten glomeratus), and tamarisk (Tamarix sp.), are the most common non-native plants found in the park.

Cultural History

The Homolovi State Park area appears to have been continuously occupied by the Anasazi  sometime after 6000 BC. They were originally hunters and gatherers, living in small, temporary campsites, depending on seasonal grasses, nuts, berries, and game for food. By the first century AD, they began cultivating corn, beans, cotton, squash, and other domesticated plants introduced from Mexico. Crops may have originally be raised in plots where moisture was dependent on rainfall. Later, particularly after about 1300 AD, floodplain irrigation may have been practiced.

By 500 AD, as the Anasazi became more sedentary, they began developing more permanent, semi-underground dwellings and began making pottery. After 700 AD, there was a general tendency toward above ground pueblo villages. There are four pueblo ruins located within Homolovi Ruin State Park. They were first occupied between 1250 and 1300 AD. Homolovi III and Homolovi IV were abandoned about 1300-1350 AD. Homolovi I and Homolovi II continued to be occupied until 1400-1500 AD. 

Hopi oral history supports the indication that a considerable amount of trade was taking place between the villages of the Hopi mesas to the north and the Homolovi's. When Homolovi I and Homolovi II were finally abandoned, Hopi clan stories state that the Homolovi residents migrated northward to live in the rapidly growing villages on the Hopi mesas.

Homolovi II pueblo ruin can be seen from the Homolovi II trail. Grinding stone (metates) areas and petroglyphs can be seen from the Tsu'vö trail.