Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Wupatki National Monument
Situated some 34 miles from the northern Arizona city of Flagstaff, the Wupatki National Monument features several beautifully preserved prehistoric pueblos. Wupatki National Monument occupies some 56 miles of dry, rugged land on the south-western Colorado Plateau, directly west of the Little Colorado River. Of the 5 pueblos - Nalakihu, Citadel, Lomaki, Wupatki and Wukoki, the largest is the Monuments namesake - Wupatki. Wupatki roughly translates from Hopi to mean tall house. Major building work on the pueblo began around 1120 AD, with the population at the site peaking about 50 years later with around 125 people. Parts of the building had between 3 and 4 levels and is believed to have contained up to 100 rooms - many of which have yet to be excavated.

Wupatki is constructed from locally sourced limestone and sandstone and features a well-preserved ballcourt and communal room. Another interesting feature of the site is a blow hole - one of several found throughout the monument and which seem to be connected to a large system of underground fissures. The blowholes act as a natural barometer - air blows out at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour when the atmospheric pressure is low. When the pressure is high the stream of air reverses and flows back into the earth. The eruptions of nearby Sunset Crater volcano greatly improved the agricultural potential of the area. The thin ash layer absorbed precious moisture and helped prevent evaporation and climate change provided more rainfall for crops during the growing season.

Construction of Wupatki ended in 1195 AD and then over the next 20 years the dwellings were abandoned. Wupatki signifies a turning point for the Sinagua, a culture which had previously made their homes in cliffs like those found at Montezuma Castle and Walnut Canyon. At Wupatki they became pueblo people and remained so even after they left the area. Broken pottery found during excavations suggests that a small group of Hopi may then have occupied the pueblo for a short period of time. There is no evidence of anyone else living there until the 1880s when sheepherders cleared the rubble from two rooms to use as their base camp. Visitors to the region included the occasional souvenir hunter and scientist, but it was probably a bootlegger, who set up his operation there that did the most damage. Although he found the location ideal, there was no wood for his still fires and his solution was to burn the ancient roof beams from the ruins. This continuing destruction prompted those concerned for the region to call for the pueblos conservation. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation that established the area as Wupatki National Monument and thereby preserving it for the benefit of future generations. View images of Sunset Crater and Wupatki pueblo by Richard Lumb here. View images of Flagstaff and environshere. Miscellaneous images and information: here.wildlife, trees, National Parks: Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Info, Grand Canyon Map, Walnut Canyon, Walnut Canyon Info, Sunset Crater and Wutapki Monument, Sunset Crater Info, Montezuma Castle and Well, Montezuma Castle Info, Montezuma Well Info, Petrified Forest, Petrified Forest Info, Painted Desert Info. Attractions: Apache Trail, Apache Trail Info, Apache Trail Map, Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, Desert Botanical Garden Info, Meteor Crater, Meteor Crater Info, Monument Valley Tribal Park, Monument Valley Info, Oak Creek Canyon, Oak Creek Info, Slide Rocks State Park, Slide Rocks Info, Taliesin West, Taliesin West, Arboretum at Flagstaff, Arboretum at Flagstaff Info. and Towns and Cities: Flagstaff and envrions, Flagstaff Info, Prescott, Prescott Info, Route 66 Info.

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