Sunset Crater and Wupatki Pueblo National Monuments
A short 30 minute drive north of Flagstaff brought us to Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki Pueblo national monuments, located near each other on the same loop of road.
Sunset Crater Volcano
This volcano was active sometime between 1040 and 1100 AD. The Sunset Crater is protected, but there are nearby craters with trails provided. We did not walk up to view the craters, instead contenting ourselves with views of the cinder hills and the so-called Bonito Lava Flow. I don’t know what is beautiful about a lava flow. To me it looked like a little bit of hell. I did spot a brilliant yellow patch of lichen, working hard on breaking down some of that lava.
The cinder hills were interesting, too, amazing in how regular the size of the cinders is. The Sunset Crater is so named because the final eruption there deposited cinders in red and yellow hues, making viewers think of the colors of sunset. We saw an area of cinders where these lovely yellow flowers were growing. Lots of them, but widely scattered.
Wukoki and Wupatki Pueblos
There were Puebloan peoples in the area, living and farming for 400 years prior to the eruptions of the volcano. The pueblos in the Wupatki National Monument were built when people returned to the area, a few generations after the last eruption. The first Pueblo we looked at was Wukoki. It was a smaller dwelling, with maybe a few families or one extended family. These pueblos are a mix of Anasazi and Sinaguan cultures.
We next went to Wupatki Pueblo. This was the main dwelling, with 100 rooms. There was also an open ceremonial room and a ball court. The location also contains a “blowhole”, a vent from subterranean chambers. While we were there the vent was blowing delightfully cool air.
As we were finishing our drive out of the area, we saw the Citadel and Nalakihu pueblos near the road. We did not get out and explore, but did note the mix of red sandstone and white limestone used in the construction of these rooms.
Flower House visited these national monuments the day after her trip to the Grand Canyon. To read about that adventure, click here.