Jun 10, 2013

National Monuments- Wupatki Ruins and Sunset Crater Volcano


Wupatki National Monument has scattered settlement sites of ancient Pueblo tribes. Wupatki means Tall House in Hopi (a Native American tribe) language, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It seems the first  inhabitants migrated to this place after the nearby Sunset Crater volcano erupted. The volcanic ash made this place fertile for agriculture and the volcanic rocks helped in the soil's ability to retain water. The settlements were abandoned completely within 100 years. The ruins in the monument belong to different tribes. The Lomaki and Nalahiku ruins seem to be little smaller and the ruins are reduced to only mud mounds and debris. Only the Wupatki Pueblo is the largest and whatever remains are well preserved. Wupatki ruins have entrance fee of $5.

Arizona Wupatki Ruins National Monuments
Wupatki Ruins National Monument

I exited Grand Canyon National Park from East-Rim-Drive (Route-64), then drove another 30-miles down the Route-89 to reach Wupatki Ruins. All along the drive it was amazing feeling to see changing landscapes ... red high standing cliffs ... ashy mud mounds ... red sand everywhere ... Loop Road which is 39-miles passes through both National Monuments Wupatki Ruins and Sunset Crater Volcano.

Lomaki Ruins Arizona Wupatki Ruins National Monument
Lomaki Ruins
One has to walk to each of the ruins. On hotter days the walk into the inhospitable area becomes too tiresome. It is wise to carry a bottle of water even though the walk is short. Lomaki and Nalahiku ruins are scattered and need a little more exploring if you are very much interested in the ruins. The ruins are built of thin small slabs of red sandstone and mortar.

The largest Wupatki ruin has around 100 rooms and a ball court. The Hopi tribe believes that the spirits of the inhabitants still live here. The punishing sun also protects these ruins in one way. Because of the heat many visitors return after they take few pictures from far :)

One can observe strange side-winds in this area. They come in very short but strong spells all of a sudden over a small patch of land! In the beginning I was surprised by the zoooom sound it makes. And with that the bushes on its way sway one side with intense force to make chatt chatt chatt chatt sound, with that dust and sand rise in the air. Rest of the place remains still. It was like an army of ghosts charging at something invisible! I felt it was much better idea to be inside the car than in the open.

Nalahiku Ruins Arizona Wupatki Ruins National Monument
Nalahiku Ruins
When driving from north, first ruin you reach is Lomaki Ruin. On the trail to the ruins I saw a Mountain Boomer which is a common collared lizard. It was a delight to see such colorful creature in that bare barren land. Lovely! It moved away so swiftly, I couldn't get a picture. 

Then I drove to Nalahiku Ruins. It could be something very important in Native American history, but for me the heat was unbearable! There was hardly any other soul around and so I headed to Wupatki ruins. I saw many visitors here. As I mentioned earlier the large settlement has 100 rooms. The community has two circular courts. The red structure built of red sandstone is on a rocky outcrop and stands high in that flat desert landscape. With other visitors around I went exploring the place. Though we cannot step inside the ruin we can see it closely. 

Arizona Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Sunset Crater Volcano

I drove down on the Loop Road to reach Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. At the visitor center I checked the hiking options in the monument. Located in the San Francisco volcanic field, Sunset Crater Volcano is closed for hiking due to erosional damage. So, went on a Lenox Crater Trail which is a mile long. At one of the viewpoints I saw painted dunes very far away. Considering the direction it could be Painted Desert in New Mexico!

Arizona San Francisco Mountains
San Francisco Mountains

After the hike I left the monument and drove north to Page, AZ. On the way back majestic view of the San Francisco mountains- a group of extinct volcanic peaks, gave me company. A view to behold! The Humphreys Peak (12,637ft) is the highest point in state of Arizona. See the 3D-map of the area. I love history and archaeology but, sometimes I do not feel strongly. If you are near Flagstaff these monuments are worth a visit, otherwise driving 200-miles only for these ruins is a bit out of the way if you are not a local. This is my opinion based on the reason I couldn't even hike up the crater! On the way to Page I went on a 1-mile hike to Horseshoe Bend which is a delight!

Note: Other destinations in this roadtrip- Grand Canyon NPAntelope Slot CanyonUS Route 89A,  Horseshoe bendBryce Canyon NP, and Zion NP, Angels Landing hike, Zion Subway hike.
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National Parks of USA.

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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

28 comments:

  1. Interesting places. Never heard about them before. Thanks for sharing this info Kusum.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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    1. Thank you Niranjan! Yeah, if you read Native American history very closely you will find some info on these tribes!

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  2. Great informative site,
    A nice professional style of presenting the travel experience. thanks for sharing the information about amazing places.

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    1. Thanks, glad you found the article interesting!

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  3. We have been in that area, but did not see these ruins....thank you for sharing. Quite a hike in hot weather (there is no heat quite like that dry hot desert heat!... you really do have to be careful.)

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    1. Thank you Sallie! That heat gets you from all directions, that migraine inducing bright light is an equal culprit.

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  4. This area is on my list of places to visit. Your post is very interesting and helpful in planning my trip.

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    1. Great! I wish you visit this place in cooler season!

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  5. Great post and captures for the day, Kusum! I have visited the area and it and its history are fascinating! A wonderful tour! Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a great week!

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  6. Fascinating and oh, so very lovely! Great shots of the scenery.

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  7. So many different places to see - I need to plan a trip overseas soon!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Glad my post makes you plan a trip! Thanks for visiting :)

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  8. The ruins are cool. I have been to the Grand Canyon, but I missed this place. Thanks for sharing your visit. Have a happy week!

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  9. Beautiful!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  10. What an amazing place! Terrific shots!

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  11. incredible sceneries, just my kind of road trip.

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    1. Thanks! You should start on a road trip then :)

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  12. The blue of the sky in the last shot is absolutely amazing

    Mollyxxx

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    1. Yeah, one thing about the deserts ... cool blue skies always even though the land feels like a furnace :) Thank you Molly!

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  13. Looks like no-man's land. I'm sure it was a great experience. :)

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    1. Yeah, its NPS land and I didn't see any visitor for long long time! Yes, it was an experience!

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