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Crack In Rock - Wupatki National Monument, AZ

Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
  5 of 5 
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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 16 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,000 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 36 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 26
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins & Historic
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
10  2007-10-23 kathleenkylee
31  2007-10-20 Al_HikesAZ
30  2006-04-29 Randal_Schulhaus
Author Al_HikesAZ
author avatar Guides 11
Routes 88
Photos 2,645
Trips 242 map ( 2,356 miles )
Age 90 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:28am - 7:35pm
0 Alternative

Listen to your Ranger
by Al_HikesAZ

Crack In Rock is a National Park Service ranger-guided backpacking trip into the Wupatki backcountry offered on a limited basis in April and October. Details are available online at the NPS Wupatki website. You submit an application for a drawing. If your name is drawn, you pay a fee (currently $50) to reserve your spot on the trip. Do not attempt this trip on your own. The rangers provide context on what you are viewing and protect fragile sites that are still being archeologically excavated. The NPS has monitoring stations to protect these sites, and there are criminal penalties and fines for intrusions. This guide is not a typical trip description for these reasons. Crack In Rock is an incredible trip to some of the most awesome ruins in Arizona, so I am trying to describe it here without compromising it.

We met at the Visitor Center at 08:45 hours on Saturday. Our group had the maximum of 11 people. The two rangers gave us a briefing on Leave No Trace ("LNT") ethics, then drove us to a trailhead. We were not allowed to take GPS units or hiking sticks. They do not want GPS coordinates revealed that might compromise an archeologic dig. This high desert environment is fragile. Metal hiking pole tips will cause damage that can't be corrected. By limiting the number and timing of trips, they conserve the areas' ecology so areas can heal between seasons.

There is no water on this trip, so we had to carry a minimum of 2 gallons of water each. We needed every ounce. This adds 16 lbs to the backpack load.

On Saturday, we hiked a circuitous route of approximately 8 miles and visited several ruins. We often stopped for side excursions, and this 8-mile hike took 6 hours. We learned the difference between prehistoric and historic sites. We learned about the difference between female Hogans and male hogans. We got to our campground in the late afternoon and set up camp. The rangers then took us to Crack in Rock. We learned the legend behind Crack In Rock, and it is fantastic. I won't reveal the secret. No technical climbing was involved, but if you are afraid of climbing or heights, this may not be a trip for you.

We sat around the campfire ring and talked before turning in.

We broke camp and hit the trail by 08:00hours. Sunday was a different circuitous hike. Saturday was Ruins day with some petroglyphs, and Sunday was Petroglyphs day with some ruins. We hiked for about a half-hour, then dropped our packs and hiked to a couple of mesas to look at petroglyphs. The lead ranger had encyclopedic-knowledge of these petroglyphs and helped us explore the meanings. Subtle differences were explained. Some non-technical climbing was involved. The rangers kept us out of sensitive areas that have not yet been fully excavated. We stopped several times for side excursions. We saw numerous interesting features created by erosion.

We arrived back at the trailhead by late afternoon. We debriefed, filled out evaluations, and went back to the Visitors Center and our vehicles. You can only do this trip once every three years. I hope to return.

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2007-10-21 Al_HikesAZ
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    information is in description

    Wupatki National Monument
    $20.00 per passenger vehicle
    $15.00 per motorcycle
    $10.00 per cyclist or pedestrian

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff (approximately 125 miles). Take I-40 east to Highway 89 (Exit 201). Take Highway 89 north. You have two options. I am using Randal Schulhauser's description of the Wupatki Ruins National Monument Trails hikes for this information.

    Approximately 17 miles north on Highway 89, you will reach the Sunset Crater turnoff at FR 545. You can turn right here and take a 22-mile backcountry loop to the Wupatki Visitors Center. Continue 15 miles north on Highway 89 to the well-marked turn-off to the Wupatki Ruins Road (GPS coordinates 35o 34.450'N, 111o 32.000'W). Drive about 15 miles until you reach the Wupatki National Monument Visitor Center (GPS coordinates 35o 31.222'N, 111o 22.270'W). The Visitor Center is also the entrance to the Wupatki Pueblo Trail. Travel time from Phoenix is a little over 3 hours.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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