Northern Arizona is full of ancient ruins left behind by bygone civilizations. Few, however, are as easily recognizable as the dwellings to be found in Valle, Arizona, northwest of Flagstaff.
The site is remarkably well preserved, especially given that it dates back to a period of the paleolithic era when humans lived alongside dinosaurs, mammoths, and saber-toothed tigers. Paleontologists say such a period never existed, with 65 million years separating humans and dinos, but the evidence speaks for itself.
Petrified flora and fauna stand outside the ruins alongside foot-powered vehicles from the period. Within, stone age appliances — such as TVs and lamps — stand where they would have when the inhabitants were alive. In effect, the site serves as a page right out of history.
We’re referring to Bedrock City, a very small amusement park and campground themed after 1960s primetime cartoon and children’s vitamin and cereal spokespeople, “The Flintstones.”
Bedrock City was built in 1973 because, apparently, there weren’t enough tourist attractions in the area at that time. It’s not like the most famous canyon in the world is a 35-minute drive north of there.
We suppose its real purpose was as a more-entertaining-than-average place to park your RV. But it also has a number of fun things in addition to the statues of Flintstones characters and structures conforming to the animated aesthetic. There’s a gift shop, a small theater that shows “Flintstones” cartoons, and a brontosaurus slide. A sign on the slide says that you can’t climb around on the parts that aren’t part of the slide itself (like the head) and you can’t go down two at a time. But it says nothing about sliding on your feet — which we’re pretty sure means you can go down Fred Flinstone-style, yelling “yabba dabba doo” for your Instagram followers or whatever.
We can’t confirm whether Fred’s Diner, which once sold Bronto Burgers, is still operating.
The park is not quite what it used to be, and not just because it’s over 45 years old. It went up for sale in 2015, when the longtime owner wanted to retire, and was eventually purchased in 2019 by some falconers who have transformed the property into Raptor Ranch. It’s now a place where people can go and learn about birds of prey, but they’ve maintained much of the Flintstones stuff from before. We suppose raptors are cool, but would it kill the trainers to teach one of them to turn to the audience and say, “It’s a living,” as it does some sort of menial task?
If you’re looking for reading material for your drive over to Valle, we recommend the limited comic series of “The Flintstones” that ran for 12 issues in 2016 and 2017. The series, written by Mark Russell and drawn by Steve Pugh, updates the franchise for modern times, transforming it into a darkly-comedic existentialist meditation on gross consumerism, war, and obsolescence. The comics, which have been collected into two graphic novels, are some of the most thought-provoking we’ve read in a while — something that surprised us, given that they’re, well ... “The Flintstones.”