Wupatki National Monument
Thousands of years ago, ancient native people settled in an area just north of Flagstaff Arizona in a place we know today as Sunset Crater Volcano. These people were given the name "Sinagua Indians". They grew corn in the area under some extreme conditions of both drought and torrential rains and grazed their animals in open meadows. In about 1100AD the Sunset Volcano erupted spreading heavy layers of volcanic ash destroying agricultural lands.
Groups of the ancient Sinaguans migrated relatively short distances and created new settlements in both the Walnut Canyon area and to the area we know today as the Wupatki National Monument which is located a very short distance north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
How The Ancient Pueblo Ruins Came To Be
In groups, the Sinagua Indians built separate Pueblo Villages in Wupatki of which the largest was Wupatki Pueblo which was occupied by about 85 to 100 natives. Other Pueblo Villages are Nalakihu, Citadel, Lomaki and Wukoki Pueblos.
Sinagua, a name given by the Spanish means "Sin" (without) and "agua" (water) which combined means "without water". They were agricultural people as well as gifted artisans as evidenced by artifacts left behind. Agriculture seemed to thrive in their new home because the "thinner layers" of volcanic distributed by the eruption of the nearby Sunset Crater Volcano enriched the soil improving moisture retention.
The Sinaguans established trade with other ancient peoples along trade routes, exchanging agricultural products for other goods including precious stones and shell jewelry. For still undetermined mysterious reasons, the Sinagua left the area in about 1250AD.
Today's Hopi and Navajo Indian Indians are believed by many to be descendants of the Sinagua. No doubt, ceremonies and tribal rituals have been handed down over centuries. Crafts, pottery and weavings today are deeply rooted in the past. The ancient Sinagua not only gifted customs to their descendants but also left these well-preserved rock-formed Pueblo dwellings in the Wupatki National Monument as evidence of their existence.
Experiencing Ancient Times, Today
Wupatki National Monument is located approximately 30 miles north of Flagstaff, AZ in the picturesque high desert region just west of the Little Colorado River and the Navajo Indian Reservation. At an elevation of about 7,000 feet, the high desert label belies the traditional image of chaparral and bedrock. Lush ponderosa pines and the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks greet visitors to this archaeological and historic wonderland.
Visitors and vacationers to Wupatki can explore the ruins of the pueblos, examine unique flora that flourishes in the area, walk among the trails used by early agriculturists and experience what life must have been like for these ancient natives almost a thousand years ago.
Wupatki Picture Gallery
These photos are compliments of several photographers that permitted the use of these pictures and images of the Wupatki Ruins under the Creative Commons License.
Visiting and Hiking The Pueblo Villages
Encompassing 56 square miles, the Wupatki National Monument is home to several remaining pueblos.
Wupatki Pueblo - Namesake Wupatki Pueblo is the largest pueblo in the Monument. Accessed via a trail located directly behind the Visitor Center, the pueblo was once home to about 100 people. Thousands more lived within a day's walk of the pueblo and one of the pueblos most prominent features is the community room, a gathering place where early inhabitants undoubtedly met to discuss trade and local community affairs. The Wupatki Pueblo Trail is a ï¿½ mile round trip hike that is rated easy to moderate to navigate. The trail is paved and accessible up to an outlook that looks down on the open areas of the pueblo, including the community room.
Citadel Pueblo - Resembling a fortress at the top of a hill, the Citadel pueblo is located nine miles northwest of the Wupatki Visitor Center just off a paved road. Once housing 30 rooms, the ruins rise about the remains of ten other pueblo buildings scattered below the Citadel. Along the path to the pueblo are the ruins of Nalakihu, a Hopi word for "House Standing Outside the Village."
Lomaki Pueblo - Lomaki is Hopi for "beautiful house" and when you stand amidst her stacked stone walls gazing through uniform windows across the plains, it is understandable how the Hopi people could conceive of such a fitting name. Located about a half mile past the Citadel ruins northwest of the Visitor Center, the Lomaki pueblo is a stunning setting that should not be missed.
Wukoki Pueblo - Perhaps the best preserved of all the pueblos, Wukoki still stands three stories tall and has pieces of wood beam remaining. Located 3 miles from the Visitor Center, Wukoki can be reached by driving a ¼ mile back toward Sunset Crater, then 2½ miles up a paved road.
Crack-in-the-Rock Pueblo - The more adventuresome will love Crack-in-the-Rock pueblo, located at the end of a ranger-led backpacking trip during the spring and summer months. Hikers will be rewarded with stunning views of the Little Colorado River in the distance, several smaller pueblos along the way and numerous petroglyphs carved into the stone walls at the base of Crack-in-the-Rock. A moderately difficult 14 mile round trip, adventure-seekers wanting the ultimate pueblo experience can contact the Visitor Center for more information (see below).
Discover the Wupatki Pueblos
When visiting any of the pueblos it is important to stay on designated paths and not climb on the walls. Discovery Packs are available at the Wupatki National Monument Visitor Center and offer exciting tools to enhance your experience at the Monument. Inside you will find binoculars for enjoying far away vistas from pueblo to pueblo and a magnifying lens for close up examination of the pottery, stonework and archaeological remains. There are field guides about the plants, flowers and landscape that remain, drawing paper and pencils to capture your visual impressions, and a Field Journal to record all your observations and experiences. Use your Discovery Pack to enhance your visit to the Pueblos, leaving the buildings and ruins undisturbed for others to visit, study and enjoy for the next thousands of years.
Available at the Visitor Center, Discovery Packs are designed to be used not only at Wupatki, but also at nearby Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments as well. At the end of your visit, just return the Discovery Pack to the Visitor Center, taking your Field Journal home as a reminder of the exciting things you saw along the way. Families will especially enjoy the Discovery Pack however anyone with a sense of adventure or a curiosity about nature will be pleased as well. There is no charge for borrowing a Discovery Pack.
Weather At Wupatki Ruins
The climate is generally similar but warmer to that of Flagstaff, Arizona Weather. During late spring and the summer months, the high temperatures are ideal can run from the about 70 degrees F to sometimes in the high-90 degrees F range. Late fall can become cool and the winter season often brings heavy snow. Short afternoon thunderstorms are common during July through September.
Getting to Wupatki National Monument
The entrance to Wupatki National Monument is located about 15 miles north of Flagstaff, AZ. Take US 89 north for 12 miles. Turn right at the sign for Sunset Crater Volcano - Wupatki National Monuments onto the Loop Road. Once you pass the Sunset Crater Volcano travel another 19 miles, enjoying the scenic climb from 5,000 feet to Wupatki's 7,000 foot elevation. See more photographs of Wupatki National Monument.
The Monument is open every day of the year. The Visitor Center is open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM year- round except for Christmas Day.
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Wupatki National Monument