Road trip to the Wupatki National Monument
One of the most significant Indian Pueblos located in Central Arizona is the Wupatki National Monument. This is an easy road trip to visit the monument and other significant landmarks from Flagstaff which is a great base to visit so many other interesting attractions beautiful area of Central Arizona. A road trip to the Wupatki National Monument is one of the cultural treasures of the Sinagua people, an ancient Indian people who lived in this harsh environment create a pueblo community. The road trip to Wupatki National Monument is really one of the best road trips to drive through in Central Arizona if you are passing through Flagstaff on the way to the Grand Canyon.
A short drive from Flagstaff to Wupatki
It’s a short 12 mile drive from Flagstaff on Hwy 89 to reach Wupatki and you take the exit after the signs for Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments. This loop route starting from the Highway 89 junction is a very scenic route going through stunning landscape, ponderosa pines and the time I was visiting, spring blooms of broom and annual wildflowers were dotting the landscape all along the drive. It’s definitely worth stopping to admire the views and capture these wonderful moments with your camera.
Wildflowers blooming on the Wupatki Loop drive
First stop – Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Along the route you can stop at a giant lava cinder cone known as the Sunset Crater Volcano National monument. Sunset Crater was formed around 1085 AD and forced lava around 6.2 miles along a fissure and making the local Sinagua Indian tribes to temporarily abandon their settlements nearby. The scenic 34 mile route driving up to the Sunset Crater and on to Wupatki is beautiful with gorgeous landscape to admire and photograph and slowly transitions into the red rock landscape that leads up to the Wupatki National Monument.
Gorgeous wildflower blooms at the Sunset Crater
Arriving the Wupatki National Monument
The loop drive continues on and eventually you will make it to the entrance of the Wupatki National Monument and the visitors center. The center is a great spot to check out the layout, displays and talk to the rangers about the interesting history and culture of the Sinagua people in this region.
Tip – do watch the fantastic movie at the center which will give you a comprehensive view of the Sinagua and Pueblo life in this region.
A drawing depicting the Wupatki Pueblo and Sinagua People
It’s a short walk to the Wupatki ruins
The trail walk down to the Wupatiki ruins are on a gentle downhill slope which is paved through the various ruins. There is a nice self tour brochure with numbered signs along the trail showing what each of the spots represent and a little background to this section.
Tip – bring water and provisions with you on the trail and take your time going back uphill which can be intense on really hot days.
The ball court of Wupatki
A beautifully restored ball court is located at the base of the settlement and is similar to other ruins in Arizona settlements and all the way down to Mesoamerica. The ball court was an ancient sport that has a variety of with the indigenous people.
Detail images of the Wupatki ruins
Additional Indian Pueblo ruins on the loop route
Continuing along the scenic loop route, there are other pueblo ruins that you can visit that are also part of the Wupatki National Monument and this includes: the Citadel and Nalakihu Pueblos, Wukoki Pueblo, Lomaki and Box Canyon Pueblos. There are detour signs along the loop road for visiting each of these specific pueblos that are open to the public to visit. For more information about visiting these other pueblos at Wupatki National Monument, check out this website here for more details.
Other places to visit around Wupatki and Flagstaff region
For information about visiting Wupatki National Monument, check out their website here for more details.
For information about visiting Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, check their website here for more details.
Check out my post about visiting the Montezuma castle and Cliff dwellings here more this fascinating look at the Sinagua cliff dwellings in this region.
Where to stay in around Flagstaff area
Flagstaff is a great base to discover this rich area of historic treasures and wonderful national parks and monuments. Hotels tend to be clustered towards the outskirts of the downtown area or along the Highway 89 Corridor. You can check out the latest prices and reviews on Trip Advisor here for more details. Or check out the express deals and name price through Priceline here.
Rental car for your road trip to Visiting Wupatki and Flagstaff
There are plenty or rental car companies to choose from Phoenix area if you are planning on taking a drive up from the south, but there are also a variety of car rental companies if you plan on flying into Flagstaff to stay and do some road trips in the area. You can check out the latest prices to these car rental sites below for the most competitive prices on your rental car.
Priceline car rentals – click here for latest prices.
Travelocity car rentals – click here for latest prices.
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