Wupatki National Monument is devoted to the protection and preservation of the remains of a number of ancient pueblos and Native American settlements scattered across approximately 35,000 acres of Northern Arizona. Within this spectacular red-rock region you’ll encounter the ruins of dozens of ancient villages where many different civilizations and cultures once flourished. A scenic road exists for those visitors who want to explore the area via car, and it’s just off this road you’ll find the Wupatki National Monument Visitor Center. All tours here, whether conducted via car or on-foot, are self-guided.
Wupatki History and Background Information
Established as a United States National Monument in 1924, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, Wupatki National Monument is run by the National Park Service. The centerpieces of Wupatki National Monument are its multitude of Native American ruins, as located within this rugged landscape are the remains of a tremendous number of dwellings and settlements built by a variety of different Indian cultures during between the 11th and 13th centuries.
The five most prominent of these ruins—Wupatki Pueblo, Wukoki Pueblo, Citadel Pueblo, Nalakihu Pueblo, and Lomaki Pueblo—are open to visitors, and easily accessible from a scenic loop road that has been constructed to run alongside these important historical sites. Although each one of these locations has been abandoned since sometime around the 13th century, each one of these spots still has much to tell us today about how these ancient cultures lived. Likewise, each one of these ruins has its own unique charms, so you’ll want to research ahead of time which site is most appealing to your particular interests—or just budget time enough to see them all!
What’s at Wupatki National Monument
A great place to begin your visit to Wupatki National Monument is at the site’s Visitor Center. This modern structure—which is designed to resemble a traditional Navajo dwelling—is open every day of the year except Christmas between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm. Here you’ll find a museum that houses a variety of exhibits and artifacts, as well as Park Rangers prepared to answer any questions you might have about the region and its rich history. There are also restrooms located on-site.
The Visitor Center is a great jumping-off point for those visitors who want to explore one of the most popular attractions in Wupatki National Monument: Wupatki Pueblo. With around 100 distinct rooms, this remarkable structure is the largest pueblo in the entire National Monument. This stunning sandstone ruin dates back to the 12th Century, and is not to be missed. A half-mile loop trail begins at the Visitor Center and runs right up next to this memorable site.
For those visitors who want to do a bit more exploring in the area, there are also a number of hiking trails located throughout Wupatki National Monument, as well as a scenic drive that runs through a significant portion of the region. Additional highlights within Wupatki National Monument include Citadel Pueblo, Nalakihu Pueblo, Wukoki Pueblo, and Doney Mountain Trail.
For all its rugged splendor and desolate beauty, Wupatki National Monument is located near a significant number of other prominent attractions. Nearby points of interest include such places as Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Coconino National Forest. Flagstaff, with its extensive array of dining and lodging options and many more tourist attractions, is only 30 or so miles away, too.
Tips for Visiting Wupatki
- When visiting Wupatki National Monument, it is a very good idea to dress comfortably in a variety of layers, as weather in the area is known to vary substantially and change drastically at all times during the year. You’ll want to monitor local forecasts closely as the time of your visit draws near.
- With the exception of the various parking lots you might stop in along the way, pets are not allowed anywhere in Wupatki National Monument.
- If you plan on doing some hiking while traveling through Wupatki National Monument, you’ll want to make certain to carry sufficient water on your person, as well as be sure to limit your outing to designated trails—both for your own safety and so that you won’t damage the beautiful natural settings.
- There is an entrance fee for all vehicles carrying visitors into Wupatki National Monument, and it varies depending on the type of vehicle in question—you’ll want to check the National Park Service website in advance of your visit for specifics. The entrance fee also covers admission into nearby Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and vice versa, which is a great thing to keep in mind as you’re planning your trip.
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