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Wupatki National Monument ~ Photos of 12th Century Indian Ruins in Arizona

Updated on August 15, 2017
Peggy W profile image

Arizona is a fabulous state filled with beauty & natural wonders. Amazing canyons...think Grand!, mountains & desert scenery await visitors.

Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument | Source

Touring Arizona

In February of one year after my husband and I had already viewed Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in the north central part of Arizona just fifteen miles (24 km) north of Flagstaff, we decided to see the ancient Native American Anasazi and Sinagua Indian ruins which are located another fifteen miles on down the road.

The small National Park Service entrance fee covers both of the National Monuments and they are tied together historically.

Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument | Source

Had it not been for the volcanic eruption of Sunset Crater and the resulting ash strewn land enriching the soil, perhaps the Indians would never have moved back to this area of the Colorado Plateau and settled in this region creating these large pueblos. Naturally when the eruption first took place Indians vacated this part of Arizona for a time.

Their crops of corn and squash thrived with the added nutrients of the volcanic detritus. Even though this was an extremely arid upland region by conserving rainwater they were able to prosper for a time.

Wupatki National Monument (no audio but fantastic still photos)

Indian Ruins

The Wupatki National Monument has an amazing number of Indian ruins numbering in the hundreds spread out over many miles. Archaeologists will undoubtedly be uncovering areas long into the future learning more about these ancient pueblo building people if there is continuing interest and adequate funding.

Fortunately for visitors to this area there are paved pathways and one can easily see all of the major points of interest and read about what one is viewing with the help of a guidebook within a short period of time. People are encouraged to stay on the pathways in order to preserve this historic site.

Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument | Source

This is not a look at but don't touch type of site. One can actually wander through the structures where deemed safe.

It is certainly a photographer's paradise especially with the contrasting colors of the red building stones and the surrounding lands including the Painted Desert, scrubby but hardy vegetation and mountains in the distance.

There I am at the Wupatki National Monument.
There I am at the Wupatki National Monument. | Source

The Indians who settled here built permanent stone structures using the local sandstone called Moenkopi and it is of a reddish coloration.

They were amazing stone masons!

By building upon some larger rocks or even in the flat areas, they would have spent much time chipping away and creating many rocks of similar sizes which were then mortared together creating many individual rooms as well as communal spaces where they all gathered to have ceremonies or even play games.

One of the largest ruins was a one-hundred room pueblo!

As far as Indian ruins are concerned, this was one of the largest pueblos built back in that time frame of the 12th to 13th centuries in Arizona.

Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument | Source

Native American Indians

Three Indian tribes were found living near this part of Arizona. They include the following:

My hubby at the Wupatki National Monument walking along one of the paths.
My hubby at the Wupatki National Monument walking along one of the paths. | Source
  • Sinagua - These people are recorded as having lived from the sixth to the fifteenth centuries in areas of Arizona around these parts and further south. They became friendly with many other tribes of Indians and absorbed some of their ideas and cultural aspects. They were hunters, gatherers and farmed using irrigation practices. After the fifteen century any recorded history seems to have disappeared.
  • Cohonina - Evidence of these people living between the years 500 to 1200 A.D. exists because of pottery, building remnants and arrowheads left behind. They also co-existed with the Anasazi and some think that the Yuman, Walapai and Havasupai Indians descended from them.
  • Anasazi - Much evidence of these people were found in the 4 Corners region where the States of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. They were road builders and early astronomers. They migrated several times due to other marauding Indian tribes and also due to periods of famine. It is thought that their descendants include the Arizona Hopi tribe as well as New Mexico's Zunis, Pueblos and Acomas.

Wupatki

Built during the 12th and 13th centuries the five largest structures that can be viewed at the Wupatki National Monument are called the following:

  • Wupatki - This is the largest pueblo structure which contained 100 rooms built upon a rock outcropping. In the Hopi language Wupatki means "Big House."
  • Wukoki - This "castle-like" structure with a standing 20 foot tower probably housed several families and had an adjacent courtyard or plaza for communal activities.
  • Citadel - This stone structure was built on a mesa at the edge of a cliff and has a commanding view of the surrounding country-side. It would have contained some 50 rooms at one time.
  • Lomaki - One can actually walk through the rooms of this ruins. Be sure and duck when going through those doorways! They are much smaller than doorways today!
  • Nalakihu - A little distance from the others, this Hopi word means "House standing alone" and is situated at the foot of the Citadel mesa.

All five of these pueblo ruins can be easily seen with access to the nearby road.

Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument | Source

Wupatki Blowhole

Another interesting phenomenon can be seen at the Wupatki National Monument.

It is a geological blowhole where depending upon pressure differences in an underground cavern air speeds up to 30 miles per hour can be experienced coming out of the hole. It also at times sucks air inward.

This hole in the ground is protected by cement and wire to prevent small things or beings to be sucked into it if the air is seemingly being inhaled.

Wupatki National Monument

This ancient pueblo Indian ruins is situated at a 5,000 foot elevation northeast of the San Francisco Peaks.

Near the arid upland region was the Little Colorado River which lies on the northeastern edge of the national monument.

Looking down at the round ball court at the Wupatki National Monument.
Looking down at the round ball court at the Wupatki National Monument. | Source

So why did the Indians who had settled there and were apparently living in these well built stone structures and successfully hunting and farming the volcanic enriched lands vacate the area?

It is thought that a severe drought brought about by climate change sometime in the 13th century drove them out to seek a friendlier environment in which to live.

Left behind for all the many visitors as well as archaeologists who study this site are the many remnants of their habitation.

My husband and I were truly impressed with this national monument. It is a site well worth preserving for people who come generations after this to see, study and enjoy.

My hubby at the Wupatki National Monument.
My hubby at the Wupatki National Monument. | Source

Location of Wupatki National Monument in Arizona

A markerWupatki National Monument -
Wupatki National Monument, Coconino, AZ 86004, USA
get directions

Would you like to see the Wupatki National Monument in Arizona?

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Wupatki National Monument ( a good in depth look)

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are most welcome.

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    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello georgescifo,

      Even the ruins are interesting and can tell a bit about how the people lived back then. Glad you liked this. Thanks for your comment.

    • georgescifo profile image

      georgescifo 2 years ago from India

      really a super piece of architecture, even though most of them are in ruins...it is really hard to preserve such heritage buildings for so long. Thanks for sharing this hub..

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi DzyMsLizzy,

      So glad you liked this and that it brought back memories of visiting another ancient site in Colorado with your girls many years ago. I appreciate your comment and information you added. Thanks!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Gosh--this brought back memories from my own trip to see Mesa Verde in Colorado when my girls were young.

      There is a similar story there, with an apparent sudden departure of the native peoples who built the amazing cliff dwellings.

      I found it both fascinating and sad. I checked in your poll that I'd love to see Wupatki as well, but sadly, I no longer have the budget for travel.

      At Mesa Verde, the printed information states that "Anasazi" is a Hopi word that means only "the ancient ones," and is not the name of a tribe, but the Hopi consider the Anasazi to be their ancestors.

      Voted up +++

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Audrey,

      So glad you liked this! Appreciate the comment. Happy holidays to you and those you love.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Very cool Peggy!!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello jainismus,

      It must be interesting to see the ruins in your part of the world also. Thanks for the share.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Thanks for the share and pin to your travel board. Arizona is filled with wondrous sites!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Alvin,

      Yes there are parts of Utah with similar scenery to that second photo. Of course they also have lots of mountainous areas and loads of canyons also. Very scenic state! Thanks for commenting on this site in Arizona.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

      Great Hub. It remembers me the ruins of Indus valley civilization in Indian subcontinent.

      Shared with followers.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Came back to pin this excellent article to my 'Travel' board. Will also share again with my followers.

    • profile image

      Alvin 4 years ago

      Excellent. I drove from the east coast to the west coast and took interstate 80There is a stecrth of 80 miles in Utah that is perfectly flat (the land speed records are tested there), it is the salt flats.Just like your second picture,

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      So happy to know that you liked learning about these ancient Indian ruins in Arizona. Thanks for the shares as well as votes. :)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting and informative read, Peggy and lovely pictures. Voted up, interesting shared on fb, tweeted and pinned.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Perhaps next time you get to visit Arizona you can add the Wupatki National Monument on your itinerary of places to visit. I have my comments set to where I approve them first before they appear...thus the confusion. Appreciate your votes, share and the 5 star rating. If you like seeing interesting Indian ruins...you will love seeing this place!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      For some reason the gremlins won't let me edit my comment. I just wanted to add that I gave you another 5 stars. :)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Been all over Arizona, but haven't been to this place! Didn't know it was there and your photos are so fabulous as always, that I feel like I've really missed out, and that's the truth. I would certainly want to go here if I get the chance. I appreciate the information you put in too, and the history behind it all. Voted up, BAI, and will share!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi vox vocis,

      Traveling is not only fun but so educational as well. It is nice to be able to share such sites such as this Wupatki National Monument with you and others. It is an interesting Indian ruins site to be sure! Thanks for your comment and vote up.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      You're lucky to have traveled so much. An interesting story and great pics! I love reading about Indians, their history, culture and traditions. Voted up!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Randy,

      So happy to hear that you enjoyed reading about the Wupatki National Monument in Arizona...especially with your interest in studying the native American tribes that preceded colonization by the rest of us who came to these lands a long time later. We can only guess as to why some of these areas were abandoned especially since so much time and effort went into the creation of them. Probably drought in this case, but it is a mystery with regard to other habitations. Appreciate your comment.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Peggy! Having researched and written about the Mississippian Mound builders in my area, I was struck with how similar these people are to those I study in the food they ate and in their ability to study the night sky.

      Not to mention how the two different cultures rose and suddenly fell with no clear explanation of what caused the downfall. In the case of these featured in your hub, it appears they suffered a long drought which surely affected their source of previously counted on food supplies.

      Interesting hub and great pics! From a fan of ancient Native American cultures, as well as, a private collector of their wonderful artifacts.

      SSSSS

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alastar,

      It is rather amazing that they trust people enough to let them wander around this Wupatki National Monument like they do. Same thing with the Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico. If there is security, it is not very obvious. Getting to see sites like this in Arizona (or anywhere for that matter) is informative & interesting. Glad that you liked it. Yes...the blowhole is also very interesting! Appreciate your comment, votes and the share.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      A pleasant surprise to find this trip to Wupatki Natl Monument with its Anasazi ruins! So fine y'all were able to wander through them without the usual restrictions. A one-hundred room dwelling is a lot bigger than I ever imagined these people had built and how about that blowhole. Thoroughly enjoyed as always Peggy, oh and these are super good pics--especially like the walk there and hubby holding on to the rock[?] Up Awesome and shared!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi fidencio1,

      At least you saw some great sites in Arizona!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello shea duane,

      Glad you stopped in again to read about the Wupatki National Monument. Stop in anytime! Thanks for your comment.

    • fidencio1 profile image

      fidencio1 5 years ago from Louisiana

      I focused on the crater, volcano and the Grand Canyon.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

      I had to stop in and read this again. love it.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi again fidencio1,

      Not surprising that you would have missed the Wupatki National Monument as there is so much to do and see in Arizona. My husband and I have vacationed in Arizona 3 times and I have driven through that area on another vacation trip and have still not seen it all.

    • fidencio1 profile image

      fidencio1 5 years ago from Louisiana

      You're welcome. I spent a few weeks in and around Flagstaff, somehow missed this location.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello fidencio1,

      Glad that you enjoyed these photos and video from the Wupatki National Monument in Arizona. Thanks for your comment.

    • fidencio1 profile image

      fidencio1 5 years ago from Louisiana

      Awesome pics and video. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Donna,

      Need anyone to carry your luggage? Haha! Like you, I would enjoy another trip to Arizona. Still some parts of the state that I have yet to see. Glad you enjoyed this hub about the Wupatki National Monument. Thanks for your comment.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 5 years ago from Georgia

      Haven't been to Arizona in years. This hub gives me another reason to go back!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Debby,

      So glad that you enjoyed these photos and videos showing the Wutpatki National Monument. I also liked the music in that video. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Shea Duane,

      So glad that you really liked learning about the Wupatki National Monument through these photos and information provided in this hub. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      The Wupatki National Monument is definitely worth visiting if ever one is visiting Arizona. Hope you get there someday and see it and other sites for yourself. Thanks for your comment.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Dear Peggy ~ Loved the selection of photos, descriptions and music in the video that played. Voted "AWESOME" Blessings Debby

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      You continually introduce me to wonderful places around the world...happy to do the same for you. Thanks for your comment and votes on this Wupatki National Monument hub. Hope you get to the USA sometime and get to see some of our wonders.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

      Incredible! Such wonderful photos and information. LOVE it!

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

      I definitely want to visit Wupatki National Monument. Great information of this natural historical monument. Your photos of the ancient Pueblo Indian ruins are a sight to behold. Great photos and videos. Amazing painted desert and blow hole. Great hub.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This was so beautiful. Thanks Peggy for always up date your hub with amazing travel in USA. I had never know about this place before and you always show me in different side. I love your writing style. Again...I hope I have a chance to visit this place one day. Well done and I'll press all buttons here, except funny. Have a good day. Cheers....

      Prasetio

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Leah,

      Arizona and the surrounding States certainly are filled with wonderful and natural attractions. Nice that you have visited the Wupatki National Monument several times and have experienced that blowhole working at full force. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi WannaB Writer,

      Learning about what we were viewing at the Wupatki National Monument does make it more interesting. Glad to be able to share it here on HubPages. Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gail,

      Like you, I was unaware of things like blowholes found at the Wupatki National Monument and undoubtedly many other places in the world. Thanks for your visit, comment and votes.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I love this one! I visited Wupatki a few times as a teenager and then again as a young adult - the blow hole is absolutely fabulous when it is blowing at full force - nature's air conditioning! I love Arizona - I certainly miss living on the side of the country that afforded visits to these wonderful monuments!

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for giving us so much historical background on your lovely photos. It makes them more meaningful. Voted up, beautiful, and useful.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Hi Peggy,

      I agree with Patty Inglish. My favorite photo was the one of the Painted Desert although every photo was beautiful and interesting. That "blow hole" sounded strange- have never heard of such a thing.

      I also didn't know that the Indians built such large and permanent structures.

      Thanks so much for sharing this information. Will hopefully make it out west one day and will definitely be reviewing your hubs beforehand. All your information is so comprehensive.

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patty,

      Glad that you enjoyed this hub about the Wupatki National Monument. Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Lovely photos of subjects I love to see and study. Rated UP and Beautiful.