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As part of our going to all of the nearby National Monuments and Parks, the 3 sisters and I made our way up to the Flagstaff area, taking in Wupatki National Monument along with Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon. At the end of this day's adventures, we stopped in Flagstaff for dinner at Huhot. We were able to get the sisters their book stamped as well as numerous photos by all of us to capture the memories. We had a picnic lunch at the Sunset Crater visitor center.

Info from: https://www.nps.gov/wupa/index.htm

Footprints of the Past

Nestled between the Painted Desert and ponderosa highlands of northern Arizona, Wupatki seems like an unlikely landscape for a thriving community. In the early 1100s, during a time period of cooler temperatures and wetter seasons, the ancestors of contemporary Pueblo communities created a bustling center of trade and culture. For Hopi people, these sites represent the footprints of their ancestors.

These Old Walls Can Speak

Wupatki National Monument preserves dozens of ancestral Puebloan villages. Though silence reigns today, this place was once a bustling hub of trade and life. People of the Northern Sinagua, Cohonina, Kayenta, and Hohokam archeological culture groups planted corns, beans, squash, and cotton among these seemingly barren hills and washes. Where many now see only dirt and hear only wind, ancient Native American people lived, raised children, and thrived. Wupatki is not as silent as it seems. Walls can talk, and if you linger long enough to listen, these teach many lessons.

Wupatki Pueblo is Located Behind the Wupatki Visitor Center. Walking Distance 0.5 mile (0.8 km) round-trip, which can be done in a Time average of about 30 minutes. The trail Difficulty is shown as Easy to Moderate. Accessibility Access to the trail is paved and rated accessible to the overlook. The remainder of the trail surface is stroller and wheelchair friendly. Steps can be avoided by going counterclockwise on the trail loop.

Highlights include

Cultural and Historical Importance

People gathered here during the 1100s, about 100 years after the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano, gradually building this 100-room pueblo with a community room and ball court. By 1182, perhaps 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo, the largest building for at least fifty miles. Within a day's walk, a population of several thousand surrounded Wupatki.

Although it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes. Members of the Hopi Bear, Sand, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Water, Snow, and Katsina Clans return periodically to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. Wupatki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned.


The first systematic archeology at Wupatki was done by Jesse Walter Fewkes. Ben Doney, a veteran prospector and pot hunter, guided Fewkes to Wupatki pueblo and others, which he then photographed and mapped. Fewkes named the large structure Wukoki, but it was given its present name in 1921 by J.C. Clarke, the first custodian of Wupatki.

In the late 1920s, as the science of dendrochronology developed, Andrew E. Douglass became interested in recovering beams from the pueblos for dating. Wupatki pueblo at that time contained a number of timbers in good condition. Douglass, aided by Harold S. Colton (founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona), excavated three rooms in 1926-27 to remove some of these beams. Many dates now on file at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, University of Arizona, resulted from this work. This was fortunate, because in the early 1930s an illegal whiskey still was operating near the pueblo, and the operators were accustomed to digging timbers out of the structure to fire their vats.

During the 1930s and 40s, several excavation projects were undertaken at Wupatki pueblo by the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the artifacts uncovered are in the Museum's or the monument's collections. Archeology was a young field of study at that time, and it was felt that in order to gain public support for archeological projects, pueblos such as Wupatki should be restored. In 1933-34 about 37 rooms were excavated and stabilized, the community room was reconstructed, and several rooms were reconstructed and roofed. One room was made into a small museum and headquarters, and two others were converted into living quarters for the custodian and his wife.

Stabilization differs from reconstruction in that it involved repair of existing wall only. Stabilization efforts include bracing weak walls, remortaring walls where the original mortar has eroded away, and capping walls with mortar to prevent water from seeping into their interior. When the first stabilization work was done in the 1930s, concrete mortar was used. Mortar today is mush, like the clay mortar used originally. Stabilization is an ongoing project and is necessary to prevent the pueblos from deteriorating further.

In 1952-53 about 18 more rooms were excavated which had been covered with ten to fourteen feet of rubble; the artifacts found from this work are in the Western Archeological and Conservation Center in Tucson. At this time there was a change in National Park Service policy stressing preservation rather than restoration. Because it is impossible to know exactly how a pueblo appeared prehistorically, reconstruction may present an erroneous or unauthentic representation of the structure's original form. Most of the 1933–34 restorations were removed. All the rooms were stabilized at this time, and the drainage system was renovated to prevent erosion. In 1965 the Wupatki ball court was excavated and reconstructed because the few remaining wall segments were inadequate to contain the loose cinders of the wall core.

Current preservation involves annual stabilization of walls, condition monitoring of both the pueblo structure and the surrounding hillsides, invasive plant removal, and trail maintenance.

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