November 23, 2012

11/08/12 – Wupatki NM

Wupatki National Monument is just 14 miles past Sunset Crater Volcano NM on a loop road, so we got two national monuments for the price of one.  (Actually, George's Senior Pass gets us in for free anyway, so I guess it's really two free parks for free.)
There are a bunch of ruins scattered over the desert in the park, several of them conveniently located next to the road.  Besides Wupatki, there are 4 others to explore; all the rest are off-limits.  (Oh, for Pete's sake!  How many pueblos do you think you need to see???  We skipped one ourselves.)

Wukoki Pueblo is a couple of miles down a spur road, then a short stroll from the parking lot.  It's up on a hill and looks a lot like a castle.  We had the whole thing to ourselves.  I think I liked this one best.
Wupatki Pueblo is right behind the Visitors Center.  With over 100 rooms, it's the largest dwelling in the monument.  Consider it a 12th century condo.
Sometimes big rocks are incorporated into the walls of the pueblo.   Think how many bricks they didn't have to haul up the hill!
A whole bus-load of kids from the Peach Springs reservation school had come halfway across the state to learn clan history.  They were down at the community circle doing a circle dance when we first got there, then they set off to explore the game circle and the blowhole.  (There's a cavern underground, and the air blows out in a small blast.  I thought it was fun too. )
Nalakihu and Citadel Pueblos are together.   Nalakihu has been reconstructed.  The Citadel on the rim of the mesa has only been stabalized.
Nalakihu Pueblo

Citadel Pueblo
There were signs at each of the pueblos saying  not to pick up pottery.  We didn't see any pottery not to pick up.  (And you know I wouldn't anyway.)
The expected storm was heading our way, so we scooted out of there. 

11/08/12 – Sunset Crater Volcano NM

Seems it never rains in southern Arizona.  (Or is that California???)   Either way, it wasn't going to be the standard “hot and dry”.  The weather guessers forecast a rain and wind and snow storm by the weekend, so we figured that if we wanted to see a couple of national monuments north of Flagstaff, we’d better get going.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is the most recent volcano to erupt in the Flagstaff area.   As with many geological events, time is relative.  It’s been about a thousand years since the last eruption...but that’s almost yesterday to geologists.   They think in millenia instead of decades. 

Some early Puebloans actually lived nearby.  Smarter than the folks at Pompeii, they left town when the earth started shaking and flames shot out of the ground.  They managed to get on the bus before it left, watched safely from someplace else, and their escape (as they say) "lives in legends." 

The volcano is a 1,000’ tall cinder cone.  In 1928 some filmmakers wanted to blow it up for an early version of special effects for a Zane Gray movie.  That got the people of Flagstaff all riled up, and eventually resulted in preserving it as a national monument. 
We hiked the Lenox Crater Trail to the top of a smaller volcano.   It's not a very exciting hike--walking on cinders is worse than walking on the beach.  Throw in a 300’ elevation gain at 7,000’ and the ½ mile hike took longer than expected.  Coming down is quicker, but those little rocks roll, and suddenly, I did too!
Tourists could climb Sunset Crater until 1973, but now it’s off-limits.  You can still see hiking trails on the slopes, even after all these years.   The Lava Flow Trail is at the base of Sunset Crater, so we saw more cinders and different kinds of lava, some splatter cones, and lots of signs that say “stay on the trail”. 
I know this is a boring post--lava rock mostly comes in black or gray.  But Wupatki National Monument is just down the road, and their pueblos are made of red rock.  We headed there next.
More pics here:  Sunset Crater Volcano NM