Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater

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Wupatki National Monument

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

Next, we moved onto Wupatki National Monument.  There are more than 800 ruins scattered around the 35,000 plus acres of this vast landscape.

They were built by the ancient Pueblo people around 500 AD.  They settled into the area soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater and created these beautifully built dwellings.

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

Because the land was blanketed with volcanic ash, it improved the soils ability to retain water which meant that planting crops was a good possibility.


Because of that, this area of land became a huge settlement.  Agriculture was based mainly on maize and squash raised from the arid land without irrigation.

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

The ancient Pueblo people thrived in this area for a time.  And then they vanished. The reason is unknown.

There are many theories as to why they disappeared.  Climate changes could have made their life there more difficult, or they could have moved onto more promising areas.

Perhaps, as the Hopi Tribe believes, they may have lost focus on what is important and failed to lead moral and productive lives.  As a result they may have suffered many social and ecological catastrophes, forcing them to move away.

We can only guess…

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

The structures were very interesting to explore.  Tiny doorways made us wonder exactly how tall were these people.  Turns out that they were actually about my height.

Dave is a bit taller than that.  LOL!

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

The desert was very hot that day, but in the thick stone walls of the pueblos it was comfortably cool.  It was fun to imagine how they had lived and raised their families here in the ancient desert.

The indians believe that their spirits are still here watching over these ancient ruins.

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

If you get a chance to check out this area of Arizona, it is well worth your time.  It is a great place to learn about ancient cultures, respect their talented architecture, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and truly experience the high desert.

Note:  If you are visiting in the summer, be sure to bring plenty of drinking water and be aware that you are in the desert where there can be dangerous wildlife such as coyotes and snakes.

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

Our visit with Lynda and Jeff was a lot of fun.  Traveling the country is that much more fun when we can share our adventures with friends and family.  We look forward to seeing them again at our next campground!


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11 thoughts on “Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater”

  1. I loved reading this post. It brought back many memories. (thousand year old trees, LOL) We can’t wait to come see you at your next stop!

    1. Hi Lynda!
      We really enjoyed your visit! And the thousand year old trees were just amazing! Tell Jeff that I think I found some more in the campground! Come visit us anytime! We had a blast!


    1. Hi Heather!
      Thank you for the kind words! It is always a pleasure when you pop into my comments too! LOL! Hope you are having a wonderful summer!


    1. Hi Jenny and Robin!

      Thanks so much for following along! I read your recent post showing the snow on the mountains behind you! I forget that my summer is actually your winter! You live in a very beautiful place!


  2. I’ve hiked to the top of Sunset Crater back in 1965. We rode our motorcycles out there when we were in High School. I took Yoly there a couple years ago and learned of the trail closure from a young Ranger in her mid-twenties. She was exuberantly jealous of my description of the event 🙂

    1. Hi Neil and Yoly!
      I bet that was amazing! I did check out your video on the area. Seems like you two have been everywhere! LOL! Hope your are doing well. We are really enjoying Arizona. We may come back and settle down here one day. But then again, it is a big world out there!
      Take care and stay in touch!

  3. Always enjoy reading and learning and as Aussies we get some great ‘stops’ and ideas for our next holiday – we’ve popped a few of your stops on our holiday planner for ect year. Cheers

    1. Hi Vicki!
      Wow! That is awesome! Maybe we will run across each other one day! It really is a small world out there!


  4. On June 5, 2015, a website with satellite images reported steam rising from the crater, leading to fears that Sunset Crater was erupting. The cause of the steam was later determined to be a forest fire, and geologists stated that the volcano was extinct.

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