Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki Pueblo

Wupatki Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument is situated around an hour north of Flagstaff on US 89. A visit to Wupatki is easily combined with a visit to Sunset Crater National Monument as the two parks are situated along a single loop road which links to US89 at both ends. Sunset Crater is the southern park so if heading North from Flagstaff it makes sense to visit this first.

The park, set in the high desert preserves a number of pueblos constructed by the Sinagua people, a literal translation of which is without water. The main rune, “Wupatki” is situated adjacent to the visitor centre. An easy paved trail leads from the visitor centre down to and around the ruins. A trail guide is available to guide the visitor around a number of points of interest. (this can also be downloaded from the NPS website in PDF format). Of particular note are the ball court and blow hole which are situated at the bottom end of the trail. The ball court is sizeable and well preserved and the visitor is allowed to enter the court and imagine what might have taken place here in the past.

Wupatki Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument

The blow hole is covered by a grating but at certain times of the day it emits a strong and continuous flow of air from deep underground. The hole is connected to a substantial system of underground fractures in the rock that contain air. Variations in air temperature and pressure cause air to be sucked into the system and or blown out. The timing can’t be predicted so keep your fingers crossed for your visit. On a hot day the blow hole serves very nicely as ad hoc air conditioning.

Other pueblo remains are situated along the loop road some at the end of signposted side roads. I’d recommend a stop at Lomaki pueblo as it is generally quieter and more atmospheric than Wupatki.

Lomaki Pueblo

Lomaki Pueblo

The site is also interesting as the pueblo is positioned beside a small canyon that was farmed in prehistoric times. The horizon here is dominated by the San Francisco Peaks and there is a real sense of the scale and emptiness of the landscape.

The NPS website is located here.