Wukoki

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4586 - 4623 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - No Dogs
Time: 30 mins.
Facilities: Vault toilet
Trailhead: Wukoki
Fee: $5/person (17 years and older)
Attractions: Ancestral Puebloan ruins
   


View Wukoki in a larger map

The Wukoki trail is located in the Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona. The ruins were built on a rock outcrop atop a hill. The 3 story structure standing on its prominent location has the appearance of a fortress with a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. The name 'Wukoki' means 'big house'. The name was originally given to the much larger Wupatki ruins but when that ruin was renamed the Wukoki name was appropriately transferred to this site.


The trailhead is located at the end of a mile long spur road between the east boundary of the monument and the Visitor Center.


The trail itself is dirt with a few sections of sandstone. The entire length of the trail is lined with rocks so there will be no mistake where to walk. The Park Service doesn't want anyone wandering off the trail. Many of these sites have only been partially studied by archaeologists and they still have a lot to learn from them. It is great that while the research continues that the public is allowed to visit the sites even if there are a few restrictions.


The trail loops completely around the ruins with a short segment that leads up on the ruins.


It is always interesting to look at the artists rendition of what the ruins would have looked like in their hay day. The walls would have been plastered with mud covering up the rocks.


The small doorways probably made it easier to shutout the cold and fight off any would be intruders.


The ancestral Puebloans always show such remarkable skill adhering their structures to the surface of boulders. At some locations it has been shown that in a few instances they actually made shallow grooves to set the first layer in.


A short parapet wall once surrounded the plaza or maybe just one end. Prior reading mentions that the ancestral Puebloans would have occasional skirmishes with Navajo raiders even though at times they would trade goods with them. Perhaps one of the purposes of the wall was defensive in nature.


From this angle Wukoki looks like a castle on a hill. The construction blends in perfectly with its base. It almost looks seamless.


The Wukoki ruin is another magnificent display of ancestral Puebloan engineering. The available literature mentions that it is one of the best preserved ruins in the monument and has not undergone any reconstruction. That makes it all the more amazing that it has stood so high on the rocky outcrop exposed to everything that nature has thrown at it for over 800 years while many other ruins have been reduced to stubby walls and piles of rubble. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.