As I’m writing this post I can’t believe that it has been two weeks since we visited Flagstaff and Wupatki… (We really need to catch up!) Well, we didn’t have enough time in Flagstaff to squeeze in Wupatki National Monument between Grand Canyon and Sedona, however we were tipped off that Wupatki was a unique spot by our couchsurfing host, so on our drive to Page we swung through the north entrance for an hour detour and it was not only worth the detour, but I’m also glad we didn’t rush it by trying to run through it the previous day!
It is just over 40 miles to north north-east of Flagstaff on the US89 and since we got up and out earlier than usual, we could spend some time leisurely exploring some ruins and short trails. Wupatki Nat Monument preserves old homes & shelters (or the ruins of them) from people who lived in those valleys in the 1100’s or fled there after the eruption of Sunset Crater volcano. A surprising amount of the walls are still standing, and I’m not sure if they were rebuilt by people who settled there later possibly a different native american group. There are little housing compounds right near the northern entrance, but driving a couple more miles to the visitor center you can see a much larger set of buildings, which looks almost like a communal meeting place (or as I imagine it, where everyone would hang out together during the day, before going back to the more compact family hearths at night). There is even a big ball-sports arena 🙂
And if you go make sure you check out the cool natural blowhole near the ball pit. From cooling temperatures the pit underground naturally breathes in and out it pretty awesome.
The entryways and little window holes are still intact in some of these ruins, and were all so low that we had to double over to pass through – there’s one trail that allows you to walk through the ruins; Box Canyon ruins, if I remember correctly. We were told that these ruins and old houses – as living areas of those who’ve gone before – as sacred to native American tribes and that they believe the spirit of those ancestors still inhabit their old homes. That puts a different spin on looking at something that might otherwise just seem like crumbling rock, but more than that it made me imagine people moving about, doing household things in these domestic areas that they built and erected with their bare hands… I am super pleased that we could spend an hour or two strolling through!