All of the pueblos at Wupatki are built out of this lovely red rock. The Moenkopi formation is 240 million years old and is one of the most useful building stones in Arizona due to it's durability. The old campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff is another place to see it.
It is also beautiful in the natural state and provides base material for many of Arizona's scenic wonders:
o Grand Canyon
o Meteor Crater
o Vermillion Cliffs
o Monument Valley
Wupatki National Monument is on Hwy 89 north of Flagstaff along one of the routes to Grand Canyon. If you like the ruins at Mesa Verde, you will enjoy this little side trip. You can walk inside the ruins here, and it was fun to scan the hills looking for tiny bits of ruins hiding along the cliff walls in all the canyons. You really get a feel for what life must have been like for these ancient people.
Lomaki is Hopi for 'Beautiful House'. This small ruin lies at the end of a half mile trail and stands at the edge of a 3/4 mile long earth crack. Earth cracks are associated with earthquakes and vulcanism, both of which there has been plenty of in this area.
Two other small ruins lie back on the main road on turnouts - Citadel and Nalakihu.
Up close, you can see the dwelling was made entirely from the reddish blocks of Moenkopi snadstone. The workmanship has lasted almost a millenium. It is silent now, except for the occasional tourist. Beyond lies dry washes and dessicated desert.
If you are driving from the south - ie Sunset Crater and Flagstaff - just before you come to the Visitor Center next to the Wukoki Ruin, you come to a turnoff for a three mile road leading to the Wukoki Ruin. Wukoki means 'Big House' in Hopi. The ruin sits atop a huge boulder and is thought to have housed three families.
There is the remains of a ball court similar to those found further south in Mexico, lending further credence to the trade and cultural intercourse going on between all of the different people of those times. Unlike most of the ruin, the ball court was not restored but merely stabilized. It is a far cry from the ball courts of Monte Alban.
This is the largest ruins in the Monument. There is a self-guided walking tour you can take from behind the Visitor Center. Wupatki is the Hopi word for 'Tall House'. The ruins are a three-story dwelling with more than 100 rooms that housed about 200 residents. The dwellings were occupied from about 1120 to 1210.
I just love this view. It makes me think of the endless opportunities that life presents. I can just let my eyes wander over the miles and miles of empty landscape and wonder how it would be to set off on a walk and just ramble through this countryside.
The Citadel Ruin is so named because it reminds westerners of castles and fortresses. The walls are thick. The windows few. And it would be difficult to attack this spot from below. However, there is little evidence of warfare within this region when these pueblos were occupied.
One neat aspect of this particular ruin is the terraced fields that surround the dwelling. The Sinagua were accomplished farmers. They needed to be in this arid area.
The Monument's namesake ruin. This complex at one time would have been four stories high with over 100 rooms. There is also a ball court at one end of the complex that is mostly intact.
After crawling through the existing rooms and through the doorways that remain intact, I can only say that the Sinagua people must have been very small.
Standing upon the hilltop on which Wukoki stands it is easy to see the desirability of this particular property. Superb desert panoramas in all directions with a nice view of the San Farncisco Peaks. One small problem--where did they obtain water?
This 800 year old ruin was probably the home for one to two families. The inhabitants are known to modern man as the "Sinagua" people. Despite the fact that the dwelling has born up under the harsh desert conditions quite well over the centuries, it was probably occupied for less than 200 years.
Located at the base of the hill on which the Citadel stands, Nalakihu Pueblo was a small community of farmers.
Wupatki is the chief pueblo of the many varied ancient communities of the Wupatki National Monument.
I usually enjoy talking to the locals, which in the case of National Park Service sites means the rangers. Ranger Holly at Wupatki was no exception. She was friendly and informative.