Scenic USA - Arizona
Wupatki National Monument
|Photos by Dr. Rob Jones
Rob's Wupatki Walkabout Report
Northern Arizona is covered in fascinating ancient pueblo sites and archeological ruins. One of the most recent and largest site in the state flourished about 800 years ago. Although no longer physically inhabited, today's Hopi people believe that Wupatki is still guarded by spirits of Sinagua people who have long passed.
Today, the Wupatki National Monument covers 56 square miles of high desert just outside Flagstaff, where a population of several thousand Sinagua lived, farmed and built incredible pueblo structures. Just a few hundred years before Columbus arrived in North America, the Wupati complex was the tallest, largest and most influential pueblo in the Colorado Plateau.
Although the area was once of the driest and warmest locations in the regions, archeologists believe that ash deposits from an eruption of Sunset volcano nearby retained moisture in the soil, allowing crops of beans, squash, corn and cotton through the mid 13th century.
By 1250, the Sinagua people moved on, leaving behind evidence of trade, pottery shards, petroglyphs, great kivas, and masonry dwellings. Park trails lead to Lomami, Box Canyon, Wovoka, Citadel, and Nalakihu pueblos. The park service believes touring these five Pueblos will take a few hours.
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