Wupatki National Monument

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 are 3 different ruins along this trail.

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.

The trail is not paved, but it is wide and flat.
See how the ruins are set upon the edge of the cliffs?
There are interpretive signs teaching about the history of the area.
You can walk right among the ruins.
Some of the ruins have doors to different rooms to explore.
The furthest ruin has a small trail down into the wash where you can see more ruins at the bottom.

Citadel and Nalakihu

The citadel ruin is at the top of the hill and the Nalakihu ruin is at the right of the trail.

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.

Wupatki Pueblo

The Wupatki Pueblo is impressive.

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.

Here you can see the trail. The stairs are not wheel accessible, but you can go around the back of the ruins and there are no stairs.
There are numbered signs on this trail. Make sure to pick up an interpretive guide in the Visitor Center.
It is so neat how they built right around the huge rocks.
Our boys loved the giant Kiva. It’s the largest we have seen.
This is looking at the kiva from above.
The Wupatki Pueblo is beautiful and interesting to explore.

Wukoki Pueblo

The Wukoki Pueblo is set up on a hill.

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.

There is a short walk from the parking area over to the pueblo.
We love being able to walk inside the pueblos.
The doors are a little small for adults.
There are great views from this pueblo. You can see Sunset Crater in the distance.

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.

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  1. Shannon

    Are there signs to get from Sunset Crater to Wupatki? We’re planning our trip and Google maps doesn’t seem very reliable for this part. It’s showing they are much further away from each other. Thanks!

    1. Natalie Ockey

      Everything is very well signed. I just looked on Google Maps and it says it’s 28 minutes between the two visitor centers. The parks are basically connected and the rangers were very helpful.