Wupatki National Monument in Arizona is a located just outside Flagstaff. This monument is a sister site to Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater, which are also located nearby. You can easily pair this site with Sunset Crater National Monument because they share the same road and fee.
Wupatki National Monument contains several impressive ruins from the Singua people who lived in the area around a thousand years ago. We drove through Wuptaki National Monument on our way to Sunset Crater, so this is the order of stops we visited along our way. If you come through Sunset Crater first, these stops would obviously be in reverse order.
Lomaki & Box Canyon Pueblos
There is a short drive on the north end of the monument that leads to a few unique ruins. What makes these ruins a little different than most that we’ve seen is that they are built right on the edge of cliffs. Each one is built on top of a small butte at the very rim. This makes them appear larger than they are. There are two different ruins on this 1/2 mile short trail. We enjoyed the freedom to explore inside the ruins and see how the people lived.
Citadel and Nalakihu
Farther in, there is a ruin called the Citadel. This ruin is atop a narrow butte, too. It stands high above the juniper covered plain, giving a commanding view all around. The trail is only 1/4 mile and is flat to the Nalakihu ruin, but then climbs steeply up to the Citadel ruin. This trail was closed for restoration when we drove through, but this is another short, easy stop.
The most impressive home is at the Visitor Center. The Wupatki Pueblo has over 100 rooms and two large kivas, or ceremonial chambers. The most impressive thing about the Wupatki ruin is that it is built right into the rock. We were amazed at how the clever design incorporated the standing rock right into the rooms. The short trail around the Wupatki Pueblo is .5 mile, and although it is paved, there are some stairs and steep sections. If you avoided the stairs, you could see most of the ruin if you were pushing a stroller or wheelchair.
A third stop farther out at Wukoki Pueblo allows you to carefully climb through a few small doors so that you can see what the inside of Singua house looked like. There are also some amazing views of the area. The trail is 1/4 mile round trip to and from the ruin, but there is also a small trail that walks around the house.
Wupatki National Monument is a great stop north of Flagstaff. Our boys enjoyed earning a Junior Ranger badge and learning about the people who farmed this plain a thousand years ago.