Mar 31

A visit to Wupatki and Sunset Crater

Category: Arizona,Travel

Last weekend, Amy visited me and we had a whirlwind day.  I took her to the south rim, and also to Wupatki national monument – one of my favorite places.  Stormy weather made for a cloudy, interesting sky.  Throughout the day, as we traveled through different climate zones, we experienced all kinds of temperatures from spring warmth to wintry blasts of hard snow.

On the way to Wupatki, we drove through sunset crater national monument, which is adjacent to Wupatki.  The two monuments are dense with beauty and history, and are unsung gems; many people come here to see the canyon and don’t know that these things are here.

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Above: In the foreground, a jumbled strip of lava hosts a few hardscrabble trees which struggle to survive.  In the middle distance lies the ponderosa pine forest that stretches to the San Francisco Peaks in the background – Arizona’s highest mountains (Actually volcanoes).  Even though the lava is tens of thousands of years old, in places it looks like it flowed yesterday.

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Above: The road from Sunset Crater swings down into the painted desert; the forest disappears within a mile.

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Above: Wupatki Pueblo, the grandest of the ruins at Wupatki.  There is an “apartment building” to the left, a round gathering place with built-in seats to the right, and all the way to the right in the distance (with some people in front of it) is a “ball court.”

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Above: Amy examines some fascinating wind-carved sandstone.

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Above: Amy looks into the “blowhole,” where cold, dense air from a cave expands into a strong breeze.  It smells like a damp basement.  When weather changes, the air sometimes gets sucked into the blowhole.

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Above: Wupatki is littered with many ruins, tucked organically into the landscape so that the visitor is constantly surprised.

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Above: it’s early spring and there’s plenty of vegetation growing.  Many animals scurry through the underbrush; at first glance, it seems like there’s not much life here, but actually there’s a lot going on!  In this one spot we saw several types of mammals and lizards.

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Above: graffiti on a water tower in the Navajo Rez south of Grand Canyon.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Alana Peterson March 31st, 2011 8:36 AM

    Breathtaking pics, Dan! Simple awesome!

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