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The Best Hikes in Wupatki National Monument

59 Triplog Reviews in the Wupatki National Monument National Park
Most recent of 17 deeper Triplog Reviews
1.6 mi • 775 ft aeg
Pitstop #4 on trip to Southern Utah. I grew up in Flagstaff, but it's been probably 30 years since I'd been out to visit the Wupatki ruins. Coolest thing was the "blowhole," which I don't remember seeing when I was there last. We got there only about an hour before closing, so didn't have time (or daylight) to explore anything other than the main ruin site.
15.87 mi • 2,022 ft aeg
This is a lottery draw as you know and Clyde somehow managed to get drawn again after his four year hiatus (you can only apply once every four years) so he put this up on ABC, BCH and So CA Backpackers. We had dispersed camped over by the Doney turnoff and woke to beautiful views :) of the snow-covered SF Peaks before driving over to meet up with the Ranger and a Ranger Archaeologist and Forest Service Intern with 12 other people for our backpack into the Wupatki National Monument. After short intros we loaded up in two vehicles for the back country (the road getting there off the main highway wasn't in the best of shape).

We had all ages on this trip from about 20 with the intern to Clyde at 68. I had a 3 1/2 litre and 2 litre full of water and another bottle as this would be a dry camp. However, that was WAY too much water just as Clyde said it would be despite the explicit Forest Service instructions to bring that much water. The temperatures were perfect so we didn't drink that much water but still...

We geared up and headed on our way walking around a rock formation area toward the Doney Monocline and then veered north. We would stop along the way for various POI including flora. The weirdest thing was dispersed hiking per the request of the ranger. It kind of goes against a hiker's grain but we found it rather fun to just pick our way across the landscape. Soon we would be heading up a mesa to check out our first ruins. Not only were there ruins on the hill, there were ruins below you. And the views were outstanding. Lucky for us we had a Forest Ranger archaeologist on board so she was able to talk about the various kinds of sherds we would see and tell us where they came from since the Wupatki seemed to be a primary trade center.

After spending a good amount of time up there we headed on down, snacked and continued on our way thru the desert landscape toward our next stop. You could see other ruins higher up in the distance to the west. I tried to zoom when I could since we wouldn't be visiting these. After winding around, up and down, we approached the Long Lentil House. The construction was most impressive and once again, the views were really quite something. The rangers talked about the house and the area with the archaeologist saying they don't do preservation anymore UNLESS preservation had already been done. She explained about the process and how tedious it can be at times exclaiming they would love more volunteers. I didn't know there was such a need or that volunteers could do that kind of stuff.

From there it was hiking to our lunch area in this pretty cool rock formation area and then on toward Chaos Wash (not the official name) which looks like it could be a fun place to hike. You hike in and down the wash before veering to the left to get out of it. From there, it is a lot of up and down hiking as the various mesas come into view. Our goal is to hike to camp that is within view of the mesa that holds the Crack in the Rock pueblo. Of course, during this whole time the Little Colorado River and Valley are to our right (eastish). Of course, you can pretty well tell where the river is based on the trees.

We set up our camp and then headed up Crack in the Rock. You follow the road a piece before heading toward and then straight up the north side of the mesa. You circle around to the south side and thru an opening to the other side of the mesa. Before walking this side of the mesa we look SE toward the Valley with the moon rising above; it's a beautiful site :D . There are many ruins and glyphs here as we make our way to the other side of the mesa not even realizing we are passing by the entrance to the ruins above. The rangers take us back to this narrow opening to climb up; which ain't easy. But wow, that is pretty cool once you get up there into the Plaza. The sun was setting fast so soon we would have to find our way down; fortunately there was a different exit.

Clyde and I got back to camp before the others. I got my wine and enjoyed my piece of pizza. The ranger built a nice campfire and there was a lovely restroom facility not too far; can't beat that for camping in the wilderness... oh, we were on Babbitt land so thanks to them for letting us use it.

The next morning we prepared our gear and hiked back the way we came to a fenced area of the Monument where we crossed and hiked north again to approach the Middle Mesa from the north side and UP we went. We got to see more glyphs and a more lighted view of the area with the morning sun. We investigated around this mesa and headed over to the formidable Horseshoe Mesa. The archaeologist was working on panels here as they are in the process of full documentation of the glyphs. They are using some fancy photography as well that helps bring out the barely able to see glyphs. This one panel she is working on you can't even see except for a few minutes during a certain part of the day. And the panel is huge. Hopefully we'll get to see what she draws out as it involves almost life-size horses.

We headed on down to pick up our packs that we had left at the gate. We continued our way toward Chaos Wash but certainly not the same way so it was fun to see some new territory. We had cloud cover so it certainly changed the ambiance for the rest of the hike. We saw some more remnants of the ancestral pueblo people and Navajo life as well as some really 8) landscape that we slithered in and around and up and down. We did have a couple good washes to go up and down. Oh I should say, there were times during this hike that the views to the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks were pretty awesome.

We took one last break before the last mile back to the TH. We saw another glyph wall seemingly in the middle of nowhere and we saw a big ole owl fly off a couple times and lots of rabbits (hence the owl ;) ). Sometimes I thot the breaks were too long; I prefer short breaks and maybe more of them but overall the pace was reasonable considering the amount of people we had and their capability range. Clyde says this group was quite a bit better than the one four years ago as far as hiking ability.

The finale was truly unexpected and awesome :app: . A rock formation framed the snow-capped San Franciso Peaks. It was really quite a scene. We posed for a group shot before piling back into the vehicles for our ride back to Wupatki. We changed and then headed for dinner at Pita Jungle before our drive back to the Valley. It was a great trip and had been on my "I'd sure like to do that" for a few years so sometimes it pays to tell the right people about your wishes. Thank you Clyde! for making the arrangements.

(Day One 7.8 miles, Day Two 8.02 miles) Videos are longer than usual because I included some of the rangers talks.
Crack in Rock Backpack, Day One:
Video 1 to the first ruins - ... V9Fk
Video 2 at the first ruins and toward the geology talk - ... vpG0
Video 3 toward the Long Lentil House - ... blyU
Video 4 from Lentil to lunch area - ... r0_g
Video 5 from lunch area toward Chaos Wash - ... 7RzA
Video 6 Chaos to camp - ... PM5M
CRACK IN ROCK: ... ZJUU ... jaGc

Day Two - in production (and there was some cool stuff on this day as well with two additional mesas)
Part 1 to Middle Mesa ... tccs
Part 2 Middle Mesa ... E24g
Part 3 Middle and Horseshoe Mesa ... c70M
Part 4 Horseshoe Mesa ... FUL0
Part 5 back to the TH, part 1 to the Hogan ... _pXc
Part 6 continuing back to the TH, part 2 ... _pXc
Part 7 back to the TH, the finale (altho as of 12-23-15, I see I haven't uploaded it yet so I will add the link later)
1.6 mi • 775 ft aeg
We entered the park via the entrance at Sunset Crater. We had hoped to climb the crater but found out "after paying" that Sunset Crater is closed for hiking. :sorrry: There is a smaller, less interesting crater (Lenox Crater) that is open for hiking. Its kind of like setting up a date with the hot girl and then her ugly cousin shows up. :yuck: I've seen many great places in this state, many more that would seem need protecting than this crater. Its just not that interesting. Fortunately, it will be preserved for future generations who will also not be able to see it. :stop:

We stopped at one of the ruins and walked around the trails, but not a lot of interest amongst our group, so we moved on along the road to Monument Valley.

This is incredibly beautiful land. I would rate this destination a 5, if not for the hiking restrictions that diminish your desire to explore.
1.6 mi • 775 ft aeg
Sunset Crater Wupatki Loop Road
we were supposed to be cross-country skiing today, but the weather and our internal thermometers had diffing opinions, so we decided to take a scenic drive instead. this drive included many stops to see lava, snow, and ruins, and i was okay with that. ruins are not my favorite destination on a hike, but this was okay. between scenic destinations, we were kept warm by the heater in the truck. we ended up at the lumberyard brewery where i had mac & cheese with a side of mac & cheese. so good.
1.6 mi • 775 ft aeg
I started early on a cold morning from the north side, so I had all of the outlying ruins to myself, and perhaps because of that, or the views that connected them, these were my favorite part. I also liked the sinkhole by the Citadel, the blowhole at Wupatki, and the ball court. It was frustrating not to be able to visit so many other sites that that are also visible.

Despite probably being well-pilfered over the years, I saw some good shards right by the trails.

I also visited the lava fields by Sunset Crater and hiked as much of the trail as the snow closures permitted. I wish I had gone to Strawberry Crater, too.
0.5 mi • 775 ft aeg
According to NPS site, less than 800 yrs ago Wuptaki Pueblo was the largest pueblo around: This stop was the third of our 3 Ruin Tour (Chinle Wash to Comb Ridge Anasazi cliff dwelling, Navajo Nat'l Monument Sandal Trail to viewpoint of Betatakin cliff dwelling).

Mrs. Smith (Anne) was in charge of reading the interpretive guide as Wendy and I walked along this trail and took pictures. There are definitely some very interesting areas i.e. the fire shaft set up for an indoor fire, the a/c system (Blowhole) at the bottom of the hill, the large boulders they just included as part of their houses.

It was VERY windy here so we had fun trying to stand up against it at times. From here Wendy drove us back to the main highway (89) via Sunset Crater Volcano. That is really something as well. We drove up to the Cinder Hills Overlook where we tried to take pictures while gale force winds tried to blow us back into the truck. I literally was blown back a couple times. There is a Lava Flow Trail that looks like it would be lots of fun to trek as well as Lenox Crater Trail where you can climb a cinder cone.
1.6 mi • 775 ft aeg
the is a surreal place, after driving miles off the highway with San Fran Peaks in backdrop with snow on top, then you come so several ruins with short trail leading to them. I can only imagine how these cities extisted back then. seems like they would damn the canyon to hold the water and the animals would natural come to them, where they could shoot them with a bow out there bedroom window. i drovbe further to reach the big city complex at the vistor center, where the trail was very short but was a nice walk with no sound. the dry air seem to make the soundwaves not to travel far. The blow hole seem cool, and if they rigged it up, they could of had cold air blowing on them in the middle of summer, but no one really knows. It is a long drive, but is a great get away from flagstaff adventure.
16 mi • 2,000 ft aeg
See the Trip Description I wrote for most of the details. When the Babbitt family gave this land to the National Park Service, they stipulated that it was to be scientifically researched and available to the public. These backpacking trips in April and October are how the NPS complies with the stipulation. This is the only backpacking trip of its kind offered by the NPS. The Rangers seem to really enjoy this.

I drove up Friday and did some recon and small hikes around Humphrey's and Wupatki. Lots of tourists at Wupatki during the day, but I talked with some Rangers and had fun. I slept at Hampton Inn and got up real early to catch the first light on Wupatki. Ranger Mary Blasing was the lead Ranger. She is awesome in every way. Her first question was "Who was here at 6:00?". I sheepishly confessed.

11 people in our group. Some drove up from Phoenix that morning. They were tired by the time we started. Todd, who owns Zoomers Bike Shop in Cottonwood was a lot of fun on our trip. If you need a Trek bike, see Todd (shameless plug). Mike, a hobbyist photographer from Ahwatukee, had never done a backpack trip like this and had some issues. For the sake of everyone on the trip, make sure you can backpack before trying this hike. Backpacking is not hiking, especially when you have to carry 2 gallons of water (an extra 16lbs) in a rented pack that doesn't fit. A backpack that fits is almost as important as boots that fit.

We had constant winds. I carried my Kestrel weather unit and clocked steady winds in the 30's with gusts into the mid-40mph range. I took some grief for being Mr. Gadget. I was carrying extra weight and using this as a training hike for Nankoweap. Setting up my MSR Hubba in 40mph gusts was a challenge but I succeeded. Several people gave up and did not pitch their tents. I had some flapping but I was very glad that I had a wind screen during the night. The Rangers had never seen winds like this in the 31 years of this hike. Made for some anxiety on the mesas during our excursions.

As I mention in the Trip description, we dropped our packs often to explore ruins and petroglyphs. Crack In Rock is absolutely AWESOME. Hopefully no photos of my butt climbing up the chimney will ever surface on the internet.
1.6 mi • 775 ft aeg
With Harry de Bruyn visiting on business from the Netherlands. We used Flagstaff as our weekend "base camp" and allowed him to fulfill a lifetime dream of visiting the Grand Canyon.

We visited all the accessible ruins sites having them pretty much to ourselves. We did meet a couple from Glendale in the process of executing some serious shots as the "golden hour" approached.

Also found the Kachina/Voodoo figures PageRob described in an earlier triplog.
1.7 mi • 200 ft aeg
With Jan van der Meer who is visiting from the Netherlands on business. Extremely windy at the top of both cinder cones. Volcanic fault line is very evident from the top looking to the south...

Was able to photograph a very cooperative green collared lizard. Think this is the first time we were able to actually view this type of lizard without them immediately scurrying off for cover...

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