Wupatki National Monument is in northern Arizona. Surrounded by desert and red rock, the San Francisco Peaks loom in the distance. Wupatki was established as a national monument in 1924 to preserve Puebloan villages which date back over 900 years. Visitors to the park can view the Pueblos during their visit as well as petroglyphs and much of the park’s geology.
While at the monument, take one of the self-guided trails to explore the pueblos including Wupatki, the monument’s largest pueblo. Ranger-guided hikes are offered during the summer and winter. On these guided hikes, visitors will be able to explore the pueblos as well as some areas that are typically closed off to monument visitors. The self-guided trails are about a half mile in length while the ranger-guided hikes are up to 20 miles round trip.
During your visit to the park, plan to bring layers of clothing. The weather can drastically change no matter the season. The area is prone to high winds. In the summer, temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit are common while in the winter there is a possibility of snow. There isn’t a campground at Wupatki National Monument, but there is a KOA located about 25 minutes away. The KOA is open year-round and accepts reservations.
Wupatki National Monument is located north of Flagstaff, Arizona. From Flagstaff to the monument’s visitor center, it is about a 45 minute drive. The monument is off of a scenic loop road. Along this drive, travelers will see beautiful scenery consisting of grasslands, meadows, and pine trees. The loop road can be accessed from U.S. Highway 89 by mile marker 430 or 444.
Cell phone service in and near the monument varies by carrier and there is no WiFi. Visitors should rely on maps and download directions prior to driving to the park.
Flagstaff is the closest city to the monument and is about a 30-minute drive to the heart of the city. Plan to bring snacks and plenty of water with you to the monument. Have a picnic near the start of the Doney Mountain Trail in between hikes and other activities.
There isn’t a campground at Wupatki National Monument, however, Flagstaff KOA is just a 25-minute drive away. Surrounded by ponderosa pine, the KOA is at an elevation of about 7000 feet.
The Flagstaff KOA can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 55 feet. Some campsites have full hookups and others have partial hookups.
Open year-round, reservations can be made online or by calling the KOA directly. Amenities of Flagstaff KOA include a playground, dog park, WiFi, cable TV, and restrooms with showers. A small store has souvenirs and some grocery items for your convenience.
The Crack-in-Rock Hike is a ranger-guided hike which is about 20 miles round trip and takes visitors through the monument’s pueblo architecture. Crack-in-Rock is offered during the summer months. The hike is strenuous and covers rugged terrain with uneven and loose surfaces without a designated trail.
Though there is minimal elevation gain, the elevation of the hike is about 4900 feet. This guided hike leads visitors through areas that are typically closed to the public.
While at the monument take the half mile Doney Mountain Trail. This trail leads visitors from the picnic area to the top of a cinder cone. Those who make the short trek up will see stunning views from the top such as the San Francisco Peaks and the surrounding desert.
Have a picnic before or after the hike in the picnic area while enjoying the desert scenery.
Look closely while along the trails at Wupatki National Monument and you may see some of the wildlife that lives in the park. The animals that live in the area are ones that have adapted to the harsh desert climate.
Pronghorn and mule deer are common to the monument. Coyotes may be spotted on occasion. Jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and cottontail rabbits are also often seen.
On weekends throughout the winter, visitors can take a ranger-guided Discovery Hike. These hikes are between two and three miles and require a reservation.
Along these hikes, visitors will learn about about the area’s geology and history. Discovery Hike participants will see pueblos, petroglyphs, and the monument’s desert vegetation and geology.
The main attraction at Wupatki National Monument are the pueblos which date back over 900 years. Self-guided trails lead to the pueblos. The length of the trails range from a quarter mile to half a mile long.
With nearly 100 rooms, Wupatki Pueblo is the largest at the monument. It can be accessed by a loop trail near the visitor center. All trails are open at sunrise and close at sunset. No pets are allowed on the trails or in the pueblos.
The Wupatki National Monument Visitor Center should be your first stop when entering the monument area. The visitor center is where you’ll meet for all ranger-guided hikes and the self-guided trail entrance leading to Wupatki Pueblo is nearby.
The visitor center also features several exhibits teaching visitors about the area’s history and Native American culture.