Thursday, April 5, 2012

Vacation Pictures: Sunset Crater & Wupatki National Monument in Arizona

A couple of other places that Dale & I visited while we vacationed in Flagstaff Arizona was Sunset Crater Volcano and the Wupatki National Monument

We only spent two days in Flagstaff so we were a bit rushed to see all the places we wanted to see.
I already wrote about two amazing places we visited in Flagstaff: one was Walnut Canyon National Monument (which you may read about here) and the other place I wrote about was Meteor Crater (which you may read about here). 


On Thursday February 23 we visited Sunset Crater
 I have to admit, our drive through Sunset Crater was much too quick. 
We didn't have time to get out of the car to explore the area before sunset which was unfortunate since the landscape looked very unique from the ancient volcanic eruption. So I didn't have any opportunity to take good pictures...I'll just show you the couple of pictures I took from the car. 
 Sunset Crater is certainly an area that I'd like to spend more time at when we return to Flagstaff :)

Dale! We should definitely check out this Lava Flow Trail at Sunset Crater next time!

Can you see the jagged pieces of lava rock that have piled up? 
It's a very unique landscape to see! I wish we had time to get out of the car for a walk in the area. 
I read a lot of reviews and saw pictures taken from other people online showing how beautiful the area is around there. 

The hillsides in the distance looked like it had this smooth, darkened sand to it. 
It's all part of the unique landscape from the volcanic eruption. 

From this map, you can see we drove the 35 mile Loop Road to get from Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to the Wupatki National Monument. It is quite the drive if you intend to spend some time at both Monuments. We visiting these places at the end of a long day so I would advise you to spend one full day visiting both of these places - that way, you can take in the sights well before sunset without rushing like we did. 

The Wupatki National Monument is an area where Native Americans called the "Ancient Pueblo People" use to live. There are a number of scattered ruins of what is left of their homes and community. Wupatki was first inhabited in 500 AD, but the population began to rise after the Sunset Crater Volcano erupted between 1100-1140. The eruption helped the people since the volcanic ash made the soil retain water better which was good for agriculture.

Out of the several sites for ruins, Dale & I saw three of them: the Wukoki Ruins, the Lomaki Ruins and The Citadel.


 Dale & I saw the Wukoki Ruin on Thursday February 23rd.
It was amazing to see another 800-year-old structure where ancient Native Americans use to live.
The word "Wukoki" is a modern day Hopi word meaning "Big House" - this ruin was an impressive three story building that probably housed two or three pre-historic families.

We saw the ruins during sunset and the sun rays cast a beautiful reddish glow across the landscape.


Dale & I went back the following day on Friday February 24th to see two other ruins: the Lomaki Ruins and The Citadel.

Here are pictures I took of the Lomaki Ruins at Wupatki National Monument

Lomaki means "The Beautiful House"

Although the Lomaki Ruins site was a farming community during the 1100's, it's now a critical habitat for Pronghorn. Unfortunately we didn't see any pronghorn (or much wildlife for that matter except for one rabbit)

Windows were almost non-existent in the Box Canyon Ruins. I'm not sure if this was a small window or a smoke hole for ventilation, but I love this picture I took :)

During that time this place was inhabited by the ancient Sinagua and Anasazi Natives 

This was the only wildlife that Dale & I saw in the Wupatki National Monument :)
Dale spotted the rabbit first!


 The third ruin that we saw at the Wupatki National Monument was the Citadel Ruin
The modern name "Citadel" was given to this ruin for the location that it was built in.

You could see so far out in the distance at this Citadel Ruin.
The sunset cast a beautiful glow on the red rocks in the distance, which Dale & I were first wondering if it was the Grand Canyon out there. But after doing some online searching, I believe the red rocks in the distance is the Painted Desert. Can you see the red rocks that I'm talking about? I zoomed in closer in the next picture

I think the red rocks out in the distance is part of the Painted Desert.
The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park are definitely two places I'd love to visit with Dale when our travels bring us back to Arizona. Arizona is such a beautiful state with so much to offer!

Dale noticed these steps leading into one of the boxed rooms

And Dale also noticed that this wall seems to have a pattern to it with the two rows of blackened stone :)

Why do you think the Anasazi Natives often built homes in high, hard-to-get-at places?

Dale & I loved the spectacular view from the hillside.
You literally could see so far out in the distance and the landscape is beautiful.

Inhabitants lived at the Citadel Ruin during the late 1100's but by 1250 the area was abandoned.
Nobody knows exactly why the Natives left this area.


I really feel so fortunate that Dale took me on this trip and that we visited both the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument. I haven't seen unique lava rock landscape like that at Sunset Crater Volcano and on our next trip back to Arizona, I hope to explore the Lava Flow Trail and take in more sights. As for visiting the Wupatki National Monument, it was a very beautiful and humbling experience for me to see ruins that ancient Native Americans had built and use to live in.  


Dale said...

Karen, we should certainly try to get back to this area in the fall time. I love travelling with my best friend! By the way your pictures are fantastic Karen, but it is that type of place that the pictures just do it any justice. It really is such a humbling place and you just feel the sense of history so strongly there...very well said Karen and thank you once again for finding such a fascinating area to explore!

Karen Law said...

I love travelling with you too Daley! I couldn't ask for a better travel partner, that's for sure :)
I really like how the pictures turned out for Wupatki National Monument. We visited the ruins during sunset on both days so that really helped bring out some of the gorgeous reddish hues of the rocks.
Gosh there are so many places to explore when we go back to Arizona! It's no problem at all for helping out with the Itinerary was you always take a lot of time in booking everything as well and I have you to Thank for that :) I really appreciate you taking me here and I'm grateful that we experienced this place together xx

lexi said...

i love learning about native american culture and history. my favorite pics in this post are where the sun is about to set...and i like the one of the "smoke hole" too! i've no idea why the Anasazi built in high first thought was seasonal rains flooding their homes or something? Daley? Best Friend? ↓ ↓ you two are soo cute!!

Karen Law said...

I love learning about Native American culture and history as well ;)
That's a pretty good theory you have about rain flooding as the reason behind the Anasazi building their homes in high places! I hadn't thought of that.
Haha yes I call Dale "Daley" sometimes or "Mister Dale" ;) Do you have nicknames for Alex?

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