Deadman's Pass, Kokopelli's Cave & The Patio

Deadmans Pass is a system trail in the Coconino National Forest. It is mostly used by hikers and mountain bikers as part of a loop around Mescal Mesa. West of the Deadman’s Pass Trail the high cliffs of the Colorado Plateau contain several small Sinagua cliff dwellings. These include sites like the Patio and Kokopelli’s Cave. 

The Patio

Hikers following the social trail shown on the map below will pass the Patio (shown above) on their way to ledge where Kokopelli's Cave is located. The icon shown on the map below is situated too far right. It should be closer to the trail.
The Patio

Kokopelli's Cave

What we call Kokopelli's Cave (shown below) is sometimes referred to online as "Smokehouse Ruin" or "the Green Room". Despite being so close to the parking area, few visitors venture off the Deadman's Pass to visit these ruins. If you are looking for a quick escape from the crowds around Boynton Canyon, this is a great place to find solitude. 
Kokopelli's Cave
Inside Kokopelli's Cave the walls are green with mineralization and the roof has been blackened by smoke from cooking fires (shown below).
Inside Kokopelli's Cave (aka the Green Room)


Starting from the parking lot at Boynton Canyon, proceed straight (north) at the junction with Deadman's Pass. The Deadman's Pass Trail climbs to a high point and then drops to connect with the Long Canyon Trail. As you hike up the hill toward the high point look up and to the left. You'll see the ledge and the large alcove you want to access if your destination is Kokopelli's Cave.
The social trail you want breaks to the left just before you reach the top of the hill. It crosses a short section of brush before turning to slickrock and heading uphill toward an obvious break in the cliffs that provides access to the ledge. This obvious break is just to the right of the nearest point in the cliffs (see map below).
Once you reach the first ledge (shown below) you might be tempted to climb a little higher, toward that spire, but the right way is to stay on the same contour as you double back toward Boynton Canyon. There is a faint social trail through the brush that leads directly to the Kokopelli's Cave (visible underneath and to the left of the spire in the photo below -- half hidden behind a pine tree).
The ledge with Kokopelli's Cave. Stay at this level. Do not climb toward the spire. 


RATED: Easy to moderate with some route finding
Varies depending on which route you take, but this entire area is than 1 mile from the parking lot.

Varies, less than 400 ft
Varies, 2-4 hours round trip
All year
No. Please do not visit ruins with your pet.
The social trail also continues beyond the point where you first came up (see map below). This part of the trail goes back into a large "pocket" in the cliffs, and there are two larger alcoves at the back of this pocket. These alcoves are another 400 feet higher in the cliffs. Rated difficult, these alcoves do not contain ruins, so the only reason to climb up there is for the view.
If you return to the point where you first accessed the ledge you can climb a little higher to the next ledge up. This ledge that tempted you earlier doesn't provide access to the cliff dwelling, but it does go to the beautiful spire above the cliff dwelling (shown in the photo below). This is an easy, photo-worthy side trip since you are so close.
Hike to the spire above Kokopelli's Cave
Connecting To Boynton Canyon
An alternative to the route described above is to start from the base of Kachina Woman Rock in Boynton Canyon. There is a faint social trail running north along the bottom of the cliffs, parallel to the Deadman's Pass system trail. Taking this route you pass directly under what I call the Climber's Cave, due to the climbing bolts that have been placed there.
This cave is a pretty neat destination, even though it doesn't contain any ruins. Simply keep an eye out for the climber's trail heading uphill toward the alcove. It will undoubtedly gain in popularity as time goes by. There is a beautiful mineral streak just to the right of Climber's Cave, shown in the photo below.

The Climber's Cave mineral streak
There are other cliff dwellings on some of the ledges in the Deadman's Pocket.  These cliff dwellings are across on the other side of the pocket from Kokopelli's Cave, and less impressive.
Finally, it is also possible to go through a pass at the top of the Deadman's Pocket, just to the left of the alcoves, and drop down into Boynton Canyon from there. Taking this experts only route provides access to Grandfather’s Cave on the other side, which is the large alcove just above Grandmother’s Cave. Expect a lot of brush in the pass.
All of which begs the question, "Why is this called Deadman's Pass?" 
The name sounds so uninviting for such a beautiful place. To make a long story short, back in the pioneer days there was a local cowboy who was known to abuse his horse.
One day he rode that horse out to the pass and made the mistake of dismounting. Because the horse didn't like that cowboy much, he decided to make a break for it and took off back to civilization. Unable to catch his horse again, the cowboy eventually succumbed to the elements.
When his body was found the locals thought it fitting to name the pass in his honor. I guess you could say there was a different sense of humor in the Old West.