Wupatki Pueblo

Round Trip Distance: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4821 - 4903 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Wupatki Visitor Center
Fee: $20/vehicle
Attractions: Ancestral Puebloan ruins, museum, gift shop, petroglyph

The Wupatki (wuh-POT-kee) Pueblo is located in the Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona. Wupatki was an immense village that appears to have served as a ceremonial city and trading center for the surrounding area. The extensive ruins include a community room that resembles a roofless kiva and a ballcourt. The Wupatki Pueblo appears to have had its beginnings during the 1100's sometime after the 1064 AD eruption of the Sunset Crater volcano to the south. The area around the Wupatki Pueblo, within 1 days walking distance, is believed to have been the home for as many as 2,000 people.

The trail can be accessed by following the path around the north side of the Visitor Center but it works out best to go through the building to pay the entrance fee and obtain a trail guide that explains the many numbered points along the trail.

The entire trail is paved with the first part being wheelchair accessible up to an overlook.

A Hopi like garden is located at the beginning of the trail. Several plaques, as well as the trail guide, shed a lot of light upon the type of farming that would have been done here. It really helps visitors to better imagine what the agrarian life of the inhabitants would have been like.

The ruins are so big that even from this distance only the main structures will fit into one picture. The Wupatki Pueblo consisted of 100 rooms that ranged from 1 to 3 stories high. Looking at the ruins from this vantage point it almost appears like a 5 story structure with 2 levels below the rock outcrop and 3 more built on top of it. Even more rooms, that are currently unexcavated, would have continued down the ridge toward the ballcourt.

The builders took advantage of the natural features of the outcrop by using the boulders as part of the walls.

The trail continues down the ridge past the unexcavated piles of rubble and around an area with more standing walls.

The community room sits in a central location below the ridge. The room, which makes one think of a great kiva, resembles an open air arena.

More than 100 pottery types have been found at Wupatki. The variety of pottery types along with the mixture of Sinagua and Kayenta architectural practices seems to point to a blending of cultures at this location.

The ballcourt is an interesting structure. It has quite a resemblance to the Far View reservoir at Mesa Verde. With over 200 ballcourts having been discovered in southern Arizona they are quite common. This is the only one that contains any masonry work so it is supposed that it may have served multiple purposes.

A blowhole can be found a few yards away from the ballcourt. The hole is connected to cracks or crevices within the crust of the earth that were created by earthquakes. Someone seriously needs to drop a robot with ultrasound down the hole and do a little exploring.

Another ruin can be seen on the hill across the valley from the ballcourt. That area is not open to visitors.

Visiting the ruins of Wupatki National Monument with its 4 main sites that are open to the public is almost like exploring a small empire. With its community room and ballcourt the Wupatki Pueblo seems to have been the central gathering place and ceremonial center. For visitors to the area the road that runs through Wupatki National Monument continues around through Sunset Crater National Monument. Both monuments share the same entrance fee so you only have to pay once. Both locations can easily be visited in the same day. Wupatki doesn't have a campground but Sunset Crater does. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.