Nestled between the Painted Desert and highlands of northern-central Arizona near Flagstaff, the Wupatki National Monument is a U.S. National Monument administered by the National Park Service. A landscape of legacies made up of red-rock outcroppings and dotted with ancient pueblos; the Wupatki National Monument features a variety of buildings and structures preserves dozens of ancestral Puebloan villages and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo: desertsolitaire/Fotolia



The Wupatki National Monument features several settlement sites scattered around the area that were built by the ancient Pueblo people, including the Kayenta Anasazi, Cohonina, and Sinagua peoples. First inhabited around 500 AD, Wupatki (meaning ‘tall house’ in the Hopi language) is an ancient pueblo dwelling built by the Sinagua with over 100 rooms, a community room, and a ball court. The residence also features secondary buildings such as two kiva-like structures.

There was a significant influx of people to the area after the eruption of the Sunset Crater between 1040 and 1100, which blanketed the area in volcanic ash and improving agricultural productivity. Archaeological surveys show that an estimated 2000 immigrants, mainly Anasazi and Sinagua Indians, lived in the area during the 12th and 13th centuries, growing crops of maize and squash in the dry, arid landscapes. The Indians constructed dwellings from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone with each settlement containing original buildings with multiple rooms.

In the early 13th century all the settlements were abandoned, and even though they are empty and abandoned today, stories of the famous landscape have been passed down through various local tribes, such as the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni peoples to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. Visitors to the site can take a journey back in time by exploring items excavated from the site in the mid-1800s such as many different varieties of pottery. Things to Do in Flagstaff, Arizona: Wupatki National Monument - Photo: Frankix/Fotolia

»The Site

The Site

The Wupatki National Monument features more than 800 identified ruins spread around the area, five of which are open to the public, namely the Wupatki, Wukoki, Lomaki, Citadel and Nalakihu settlements.

The Wupatki Pueblo is a three-story structure with over 100 rooms that was once home to more than 300 people. Built on the edge of a small plateau with magnificent views over the Painted Desert, the ruins are reached by a short, paved trail beginning at the Visitor Center. The Wupatki Pueblo also features a circular community room, a masonry ballpark, and a natural blowhole.

The Wukoki Pueblo is built on an isolated block of sandstone and a unique structure in the park. Visible for miles across the flat terrain, the Wukoki Pueblo centered around a square, three-story tower with intricately-constructed rooms of deep-red brick off the side that seamlessly merge with the underlying Moenkopi rock.

Built on the edge of a shallow, vertical-walled canyon, the Lomaki Pueblo is reached by a short trail and boasts breathtaking views of the snow-capped the the San Francisco Peaks to the west. The pueblo’s buildings rest on horizontal, thin-layered strata of the local Moenkopi sandstone littered with fallen boulders that seamlessly merge with the crumbling masonry walls of the pueblo.

The Citadel and Nalakihu Pueblos are small, partly restored pueblos with views over the surrounding hillsides enclosed by flat walls.

Doney Mountain Trail

The Doney Mountain Trail begins at the Doney Mountain Picnic Area and winds around the extinct volcano whose smooth, barren hillside slopes are composed of red and black ash. Named after an early explorer and excavator of Indian artifacts, the Doney Mountain Trail passes the remains of a single-room lava-block dwelling with beautiful views of the San Francisco Peaks and the Little Colorado River valley. Things to Do in Flagstaff, Arizona: Wupatki National Monument - Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/Fotolia

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»Education & Visitor Information

Education & Visitor Information

The Wupatki National Monument offers guided field trips for visitors, ranger-guided programs for youth and students, or ranger-guided curriculum-based programs for all ages. The Park also participates in a special Junior Ranger Program, which features a variety of age-group-specific activities.

The Wupatki National Monument is located at 25137 N Wupatki Loop Road in Flagstaff and is open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset. The Wupatki National Monument has a variety of trails which lead to settlements such as the Box Canyon, Nalakihu, Citadel and Lomaki Pueblos, as well as the Wupatki and Wukoki settlements. Styled after a traditional Navajo dwelling called a Hogan, the Wupatki Visitor Center features a museum and restroom facilities and offers activities for Junior Rangers.

Back to: Flagstaff, AZ Address: 25137 N Wupatki Loop Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, website, Phone: 928-679-2365 Things to Do in Flagstaff, Arizona: Wupatki National Monument - Photo: spacaj/Fotolia

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Things to Do in Flagstaff, Arizona: Wupatki National Monument

  • History, Photo: Courtesy of Frankix -
  • The Site, Photo: Courtesy of Fotoluminate LLC -
  • Education & Visitor Information, Photo: Courtesy of spacaj -
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of desertsolitaire -