"Sinaguans at a Cultural Crossroads" Top 5 Page for this destination Wupatki National Monument by mtncorg

Wupatki National Monument Travel Guide: 87 reviews and 391 photos

I have heard many Europeans say - and what they say is believed by a lot of Americans - that there really isn't any history to the New World other than the last couple hundred years. Come to Arizona and New Mexico, southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado to prove that wrong (of course, you could go to a lot of places south of the border and prove it wrong too :-]). A trip to the Southwestern national parks and monuments can overwhelm with the history that has gone on before. Sometimes just the list of names of peoples leaves you in simple confusion: Anasazi, Hopi, Salado, Pueblo, Yavapai, Havasupai, Sinagua, Hohokam, Paiute, Navajo, Hualapai, Tohono O'odam - the list goes on and on making you less able to sort it all out. Of course, it is no more confusing than Belgians, Germans, Swabian, Rhaetoromanisch, Italian, Welser, Danish, etc.. The problem here is that the histories have not been written down. It is for archaelogists, geologists, anthropologists, dendrochronologists, etc., to put the puzzle together - sometimes right, sometimes not.

The histories they have come up with are compelling and absorbing, especially when you come face-to-face with a house built in the 12th century. Here, at Wupatki, you have many puzzle pieces to fit. Grand ruins stand as they have for centuries at the edge of a bleak, red desert. Even without knowing what the story that is known, the ruins are entrancing on their own.

Wupatki pueblo is a ruin built by Sinaguan people around 1100. They lived her til about 1225. Evidence suggest this was a cultural crossroads with Anasazis from the northeast and Cohonina from the west also migrating into the area about the same time. The development of the area also seems to coincide with the eruptions occuring from the Sunset Crater area to the immediate southwest. It is thought that thin ash layers allowed Sinaguans, who had fled farmlands they had been living in for 400 years around Sunset Crater, to cultivate lands that were previously unfarmable.

There are four other small ruins within the monument besides Wupatki - none as large. There is a small campground in nearby Sunset Crater Nat Mon, but there are no other services in either monument. Flagstaff is the nearest city. Backcountry camping is possible at Wupatki with a permit from the Visitor Center. There are no trails - all backcountry travel is crosscountry.

Fees: $5 / 7 days for both Wupatki and Sunset Crater

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Native American ruins amongst bright red desert
  • Cons:Hot in the summer and busier than many Ruin monuments with Grand Canyon right around the corner
  • In a nutshell:Silent history on Display in an Empty Red Desert
  • Intro Updated Nov 30, 2003
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Reviews (6)

Comments (6)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    I am going here too when in Flagstaff area. This helps me get a perspective of what to see and do. Thank you

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 12, 2004 at 3:36 AM

    Another fascinating and highly informative page!

  • Jonathan_C's Profile Photo
    Feb 15, 2004 at 7:26 AM

    You give a wonderful introduction to this enchanting spot. The lack of written history leaves interpretation available to the creative imagination.

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2003 at 9:05 PM

    Fabulous history which indeed needs delving into and exploring. Your intro is wonderful. Great page and explained well. Amazing area.

  • catalysta's Profile Photo
    Dec 1, 2003 at 3:28 PM

    Wonderful pages on Wupatki, Mark, and great narrative! Wukoki is one of my favorite little spots in the world...cat

  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2003 at 12:46 PM

    Now you're hitting upon something positive to my mind about the American Southwest. . . the Hopi and Anasazi ruins.


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