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.
For its time and place, there was no other pueblo like Wupatki. Less
than 800 years ago, it was the tallest, largest, and perhaps the
richest and most influential pueblo around. It was home to 85-100
people, and several thousand more lived within a day’s walk. And it
was built in one of the lowest, warmest, and driest places on the
Colorado Plateau. What compelled people to build here?
Human history here spans at least 10,000 years. But only for a time, in the 1100s, was the landscape this densely populated. The eruption of nearby Sunset Crater Volcano a century earlier probably played a part. Families that lost their homes to ash and lava had to move. They discovered that the cinders blanketing lands to the north could hold moisture needed for crops.
As the new agricultural community spread, small scattered homes were replaced by a few large pueblos, each surrounded by many smaller pueblos and pithouses. Wupatki, Wukoki, Lomaki, and other masonry pueblos emerged from bedrock. Trade networks expanded, bringing exotic items like turquoise, shell jewelry, copper bells, and parrots. Wupatki flourished as a meeting place of different cultures. Then, by about 1250, the people moved on.
The people of Wupatki came here from another place. From Wupatki, they sought out another home. Though no longer occupied, Wupatki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned.
For information on the Crack in Rock backpacking trip, see my Trip Description at www.HikeArizona.com
Opening scenes of the movie "Easy Rider" with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were filmed on the Wupatki Road.