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Wupatki National Monument


Flagstaff Area National Monuments
6400 N. Hwy 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Phone
Headquarters, Flagstaff Area National Monuments
(928) 526-1157
Wupatki National Monument Visitor Center
(928) 679-2365

Explore Wupatki National Monument


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Less than 800 years ago, Wupatki Pueblo was the largest pueblo around. It flourished for a time as a meeting place of different cultures. Yet this was one of the warmest and driest places on the Colorado Plateau, offering little obvious food, water, or comfort. How and why did people live here? The builders of Wupatki and nearby pueblos have moved on, but their legacy remains.

Wupatki Pueblo

Wupatki is the largest pueblo in the park. A self-guided trail begins behind the visitor center.

People gathered here during the 1100s, gradually building this 100-room pueblo with a community room and ballcourt. By 1182, perhaps 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo, the largest building for at least fifty miles. Within a day's walk, a population of several thousand surrounded Wupatki.

  • Distance 1/2 mile round-trip
  • Time 45 minutes
  • Difficulty Easy to Moderate
  • Accessibility Trail is paved and accessible to an overlook

Wupatki appears empty and abandoned. Though it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes. Members of the Hopi Bear, Sand, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Water, Snow, and Katsina Clans return periodically to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. Wupatki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned.

While visiting the pueblos, stay off walls, do not remove or disturb any features, and stay on established trails. These sites are vital to our studies of the past and are protected by Federal law. Please join us in our efforts to protect these prehistoric sites as well as the plant and animal life in the park.

History

Wupatki National Monument was established by President Calvin Coolidge on December 9, 1924, to preserve Citadel and Wupatki pueblos. Monument boundaries have been adjusted several times since then, and now include additional pueblos and other archeological resources on a total of 35,422 acres.

Wupatki represents a cultural crossroads, home to numerous groups of people over thousands of years. Understanding of earlier people comes from multiple perspectives, including the traditional history of the people themselves and interpretations by archeologists of structures and artifacts that remain. You can explore both through the links on this page.

Nature

The high arid Colorado Plateau region of the American Southwest is world-renowned for its many well-preserved archeological resources. We may think first of excavations or arrowheads, but archeology involves a wide range of structures and objects - all the things used by past peoples in their daily lives. 

Archeologists study all these resources - from the smallest piece of pottery, to charcoal and food remains, to the rock and wood remains of large buildings - and the places where they are found, to learn more about the people who lived here and to connect their lives with ours. Through the findings of archeologists, people from times past can speak to us today.

What did people eat? Did they hunt wildlife? Gather plants and berries? Grow crops? Did they weave cloth? Trade with others? How long did they live? Were they healthy? Modern archeologists use both shovels and high tech tools to answer questions like these. Sometimes there are glimpses, through the artifacts left behind, of how a society functioned, or what its people believed.

It is up to all of us to preserve the archeological story. Each fragment, each stone structure is a unique piece of the past. Please leave them undisturbed.

Places to Picnic

  • Lomaki Pueblo
  • Doney Mountain

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