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Photo Adventure : Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Photo Adventure : Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

When I was in Europe, it was amazing to me how much history was in every turn.  Churches were centuries old and some homes had been used for generations upon generations.  That is a very different experience than I have in America.  We’re a young country, and our history is young history.  Of course, our nation’s history doesn’t begin with the Europeans.  The Native Americans were here first, and have rich traditions as old as the ones I observed in Europe.  However, a lot of their buildings were created to be temporary and easily moved to fit tribes’ livestyles.

The exceptions are the cliff dwellers and pueblo builders of the Southwest.  We were able to see homes built by both, but by far my favorite stop was Wupatki National Monument.  Located somewhat near Flagstaff, it is a great stop between Sedona and the Grand Canyon.  It is really two National Park Service sites in one, because it is right next door to Sunset Crater Volcano – which is historically significant.

Wupatki means “Tall House” in Hopi, and it really was.  The Sinagua pueblo was multi-story and had more than 100 rooms and was first inhabited around 500 AD.  After Sunset Crater erupted sometime between 1040 and 1100, the rich soil probably improved the growing potential of the desert soil, and an influx of people brought the number of inhabitants to about 100.  But by 1225, the site was completely abandoned – probably the result of another eruption of Sunset Crater.

Today, Wupatki National Monument takes care of several pueblos in the area of varying size and state of ruin.  It is amazing to me that these people with no visible water source were able to make a home in such an inhospitable environment.  It is a site I highly recommend for all travelers – including families with children.  While my kids haven’t started an in depth study of Native American history, it was very beneficial for them to see a home very different from their own.

The largest pueblo site is the Wupatki ruins. They are located next to the visitor’s center.

The Wupatki pueblo also contains a ball court.

The construction was pretty impressive. Hard to imagine the ruins are so very old.

A lot of the surrounding sand is black and is volcanic in origin. Sunset Crater Volcano NM is right next door.

Looking beside the pueblo, it is easy to see where the construction materials came from.

wupatki national monument arizona

Overlooking the entire Wupatki pueblo site. It is more expansive than you expect.


wupatki national monument arizona

The other significant ruin is the Wukoki pueblo, a short drive from the main site.

wupatki national monument arizona

You can actually climb on the Wukoki Pueblo. I imagine the view hasn’t changed much over time.

wupatki national monument arizona

The pueblo looks tremendous in the golden light of near-sunset.

Wukoki Pueblo - Wupatki National Monument

We drove by the Wukoki pueblo a second time during our trip, this time with a storm approaching.

Wukoki Pueblo - Wupatki National Monument

Such a gorgeous historical site in the Arizona desert!

National Park Service : Wupatki National Monument

  1. Lish 24 April, 2013

    Wow, beautiful pictures! I’ve always wanted to see the cliff houses, but I didn’t even know about these pueblos. Great post!

  2. budget jan 25 April, 2013

    I love the deep red of the rock and the wonderful building technique – so neat!

  3. Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad 25 April, 2013

    I’m so in love with the deep red color of Arizona’s rocks. And of course, those cliff houses.

    Beautiful beautiful shots you got up there, by the way!

    – Maria Alexandra

  4. Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad 25 April, 2013

    I’m so in love with the deep red color of Arizona’s rocks. And so I am with those cliff houses!

    Those photographs of importance as well, by the way 😉 especially the one where the rock frames the pueblo

    – Maria Alexandra

  5. Lisa Goodmurphy 25 April, 2013

    What a beautiful place! Isn’t it amazing to think that you are looking at the same views as someone did 1500 years before you?

  6. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} 26 April, 2013

    I’ve been to the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, CO, but I’ve never heard of this park or Sunset Crater Volcano. I’ll have to keep them in mind whenever we end up driving out to the Grand Canyon. I especially like the photo with the shadow cast on the ground by the approaching storm clouds.

  7. Mary {The World Is A Book} 27 April, 2013

    Beautiful photos of such a scenic place. I love the red rocks and all those pueblos. Two parks next to each other is a great bonus. Adding this to our AZ park list to visit soon.

  8. Anonymous 19 May, 2013

    Awesome post.

  9. Photo Adventure - Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona - Everything Everywhere Family Travel 7 October, 2013

    […] from Flagstaff, there’s two National Monuments just off the main road.  Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments are definitely worth the short […]