Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki Nat. Monuments

Trip Start May 21, 2013
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Trip End Jun 02, 2013


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Monday, May 27, 2013

We all slept in and had a slow start to the day.  We didn't leave until about 10:15.  We drove south on 180 to Flagstaff and then got on Route 66 again.  Derek found the Flagstaff Brew House on his phone and we went right by it on 66.  We arrived at Sunset Crater National Monument shortly after 11:00.  We stopped to take a picture of the Volcano and San Francisco Mountain on the way in.  My Senior Pass came in handy again.  We went to the Visitor's Center and looked at the exhibits.  Then we drove to the Lenox Crater Trail.  It was a strenuous trail straight up a cinder cone, so the walking was like walking in black sand.  But the view of Lenox Crater at the top was worth it.  On the way down the trail (much easier) we could see several good views of Sunset Crater Volcano.  When we got back to the bottom we went and walked in the Ah-Ah lava beds across from the trail.  Larry, Derek and Erin climbed the lava flow but I don't rock climb anymore.  So I took pictures from the bottom. 

Next we drove to the Lava Flow Trail and Picnic Area where we had our lunch.  After lunch we took the one mile loop trail through the lava flow and by the base of the Volcano.  No one is allowed to hike on Sunset Crater anymore, but you can still see the scars of the old trails going up the side of the volcano.  It was a guided trail and Derek read each of the stops to us.  We took lots of pictures.  It took us about an hour to do it because of the trail guide and all the pictures.  Our next stop was Cinder Hills Overlook where we could see several cinder cones.  What was remarkable is that we could see pattern on the cones in the cinders like you see in sand dunes.  We stopped at the Painted Desert Vista and we could see it way in the distance, too far to go see today.  We stopped a couple of more times to get pictures of the painted desert and at the entrance to Wupatki National Monument. 

Our first stop was Wukoki Pueblo.  Wukoki means big house and that is what it was.  On top of a large red rock was the ruin of a pueblo built in the 11th century.  The architecture was amazing considering all they used were rocks and clay.  The corners were thicker than the walls.  There were lintels over the doors and windows.  It stuck up so far into the landscape that you could see it for miles.  While we were there Larry and I saw a black-throated sparrow, another life bird. 

Our next stop was the Visitor's Center and Wupatki Pueblo.  Again my senior pass came in handy.  This is the largest pueblo in the area and originally it had over 100 rooms.  There was a guided path again and this time Erin did the narration for us.  There were 20 stops.  At the pueblo besides the rooms there was a kiva, a place where private religious ceremonies took place.  They had reconstructed a circular gathering space that functioned somewhat like a town square and it was a place for public religious ceremonies.  Further down into the valley there was a larger oval-shaped ball field that has also been reconstructed.  Close to this arena was a blow hole, which is a place where the earth breathes. Today the breeze was coming out the hole and it was like standing on an air conditioner which was great because it was  88* while we were there.  While we took turns getting cooled down we saw another black-throated sparrow.  This tour also took us about an hour.  When we left we saw a raven sitting on the water fountain.  We also saw  a Western Kingbird in a tree near the Visitor's Center. 

On the way out on the loop road we stopped at Doney Mountain but didn't hike the trail.  We got a good view of the valley where Wupatki and Wukoki Pueblos are and with binoculars we could see both.  Our next stop was at Nalakihu and Citadel Pueblos.  Nalakihu was small and at the base of the Citadel which was aptly named.  It is located on top of a large flat rock making it a very defensible position.  On one side was a large sink hole at least 100 feet deep.  On the other sides you could see anyone approaching from miles away.  We hiked up the path to the top and the view was magnificent.  We stopped when we were further down the road to take more pictures of its place in the landscape.  Our last stop was at the Box Canyon Dwellings and Lomaki Pueblo.  We could see the Box Canyon Dwellings from the Parking Lot but we couldn't see Lomaki Pueblo.  We decided it was getting late and we needed to head back so we didn't hike to these spots.

We finished the loop road and drove 30 miles south to Flagstaff and stopped at the Flagstaff Brew Pub for supper.  Big surprise!  We each had 1/2 pound hamburgers.  I had a pear hamburger with pears marinated in balsamic vinagrette and blue cheese.  Derek had a green chilis hamburger.  I can't remember the other two.  But they were humongous and delicious.  Larry, Derek, and Erin each had a couple of the local brews and I had Cherry Cream Soda.  By the time we left the temperature was getting pretty chilly.  Larry got us back to the house in record time, thank goodness there were no cops, just lots of deer and elk moving about.  We got home about 9:00.  The others were in bed by 9:30 or 10:00 but I stayed up to write the blog.
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