After visiting so many National Parks during my two week road trip in California and Arizona, I started to crave more and wanted to see all that I could. With that said, I ran into three on my way south from Antelope Canyon (wrote about this last time). The first one was Wupatki National Monument right off Highway 89.
Wupatki National Monument is a park that was established in 1924 to protect several adobe structures built by the Ancient Pueblos. The word Wupatki means “tall house” in the Hopi language, which is appropriate because the biggest of these structures was several stories high and contained 100 rooms. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500AD, but it was not until the nearby Sunset Crater started erupting around 1100AD. The eruption covered the desert valley with ash and made the soil more fertile. By 1182 almost 100 people lived at Wupatki, but by 1225 the site was permanently abandoned. This is probably due to the depletion of the soil.
Checking out the Wupatki National Monument sites is a simple yet rewarding task. Just take the 20 mile or so spur (395) off the highway and make the 4-6 stops including the visitor center. Unlike the other National Parks I have written about, this one will be empty and you feel like you have it to yourself. If you continue along 395 it will take you back to Highway 89, but first will pass through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, which is my next blog destination so make sure you come back and join me.