Less than 800 years ago, Wupatki Pueblo was
the largest pueblo around. It flourished for a time as a meeting
place of different cultures. Yet this was one of the warmest and
driest places on the Colorado Plateau, offering little obvious food,
water, or comfort. How and why did people live here? The builders of
Wupatki and nearby pueblos have moved on, but their legacy remains.
Wupatki is the largest pueblo in the park. A
self-guided trail begins behind the visitor center.
People gathered here during the 1100s,
gradually building this 100-room pueblo with a community room and
ballcourt. By 1182, perhaps 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki
Pueblo, the largest building for at least fifty miles. Within a
day's walk, a population of several thousand surrounded Wupatki.
- Distance 1/2 mile round-trip
- Time 45 minutes
- Difficulty Easy to Moderate
- Accessibility Trail is paved and accessible to
Wupatki appears empty and abandoned. Though it
is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived
and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are
passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes.
Members of the Hopi Bear, Sand, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Water, Snow,
and Katsina Clans return periodically to enrich their personal
understanding of their clan history. Wupatki is remembered and cared
for, not abandoned.
While visiting the pueblos, stay off walls, do
not remove or disturb any features, and stay on established trails.
These sites are vital to our studies of the past and are protected
by Federal law. Please join us in our efforts to protect these
prehistoric sites as well as the plant and animal life in the park.
Wupatki National Monument was established by
President Calvin Coolidge on December 9, 1924, to preserve Citadel
and Wupatki pueblos. Monument boundaries have been adjusted several
times since then, and now include additional pueblos and other
archeological resources on a total of 35,422 acres.
Wupatki represents a cultural crossroads, home
to numerous groups of people over thousands of years. Understanding
of earlier people comes from multiple perspectives, including the
traditional history of the people themselves and interpretations by
archeologists of structures and artifacts that remain. You can
explore both through the links on this page.
The high arid Colorado Plateau region of the
American Southwest is world-renowned for its many well-preserved
archeological resources. We may think first of excavations or
arrowheads, but archeology involves a wide range of structures and
objects - all the things used by past peoples in their daily lives.
Archeologists study all these resources - from the smallest piece of
pottery, to charcoal and food remains, to the rock and wood remains
of large buildings - and the places where they are found, to learn
more about the people who lived here and to connect their lives with
ours. Through the findings of archeologists, people from times past
can speak to us today.
What did people eat? Did they hunt wildlife?
Gather plants and berries? Grow crops? Did they weave cloth? Trade
with others? How long did they live? Were they healthy? Modern
archeologists use both shovels and high tech tools to answer
questions like these. Sometimes there are glimpses, through the
artifacts left behind, of how a society functioned, or what its
It is up to all of us to preserve the
archeological story. Each fragment, each stone structure is a unique
piece of the past. Please leave them undisturbed.
Places to Picnic
- Lomaki Pueblo
- Doney Mountain