Sometime between 1040 and 1100 the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano sent clouds of ash and cinders into the sky, causing the local Sinagua people to flee. The ash settled over 800 square miles, and when the Sinaguas returned, they found that the ash retained moisture, improved the soil, and made their crops more productive. The area attracted Native Americans from neighboring regions and became a cultural melting pot. Wupatki grew to be a major pueblo, eventually rising to four stories in some places and containing more than 100 rooms. But less than 100 years later the residents were forced to leave again, possibly because of severe drought. By 1225 Wupatki and the surrounding villages stood vacant.
Although no hiking is allowed on the volcano’s cone, a one-mile loop trail leads through the lava beds. Bonito campground, maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, is near the visitors center.
–Monuments open year-round; visitors centers open daily except Christmas. Campground open late May – mid-Oct.
(928) 679-2365 Wupatki
(928) 526-0502 Sunset Crater