Wukoki Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Trip Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2019
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 25th, 2020
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.2 miles roundtrip
Time 15 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible Yes

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

If you're coming from Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Wukoki Pueblo will be the first ruins you see in Wupatki National Monument. The Hopi word "wukoki" translates to "big house", and this building of 6-7 rooms housed up to three families of the ancestors of the Hopi tribe from the 1100s to the 1200s. While it's not as large as the park's namesake Wupatki Pueblo, the craftsmanship of the pueblo is remarkable and certainly worth a visit.

To start the hike, simply follow the wheelchair accessible, hard-packed gravel trail pictured below to the rock slab forming the base of the pueblo, then ascend the few stone steps to start your exploration of the ruins.

Wukoki Pueblo rising above the desert as seen from the start of the trail

Wukoki Pueblo rising above the desert as seen from the start of the trail

Unlike nearby Wupatki Pueblo, you can actually walk inside the rooms if you duck through the tiny opening pictured below. The first thing you'll notice is how small the rooms are, especially considering that multiple people usually lived in a room this size. In the summer, you can experience how the thick stone walls kept the interior cool.
The stone walls of Wukoki Pueblo as seen from the inside of one of the rooms

The stone walls of Wukoki Pueblo as seen from the inside of one of the rooms

After exploring the inside of the pueblo, walk the short loop around the ruins so you can inspect the exterior. It's astounding to think that people built this structure without modern tools -- the walls are so flat and the angles are so crisp!
The high walls of Wukoki Pueblo from the back side

The high walls of Wukoki Pueblo from the back side

Looking to the southwest, you can see the highest mountains in Arizona, the San Francisco Peaks, off in the distance, as pictured below. The residents of the pueblo hand carried tall pines and spruces from those distant forests to serve as roof beams. Somehow a community survived here in this desolate wilderness by collecting rainwater (the closest river, the Little Colorado is 5 miles away) and taking advantage of the fertile soil created by the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano.
The view across the desert with the San Francisco Peaks in the background

The view across the desert with the San Francisco Peaks in the background

Hopefully you'll learn something by visiting Wukoki Pueblo and you'll be excited to visit more ruins on your trip through Wupatki National Monument. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!



Important Information

Dogs are not allowed on any trails in the park; it's best to leave your dog at home since desert temperatures can kill dogs waiting in cars. This is an excellent hike for the whole family since it's so short; kids will love going inside the stone ruins, just make sure kids do not touch or trample any walls. The trail is wheelchair accessible up right up to the base of the pueblo, but stairs are required to go up and inside the ruins. You can visit during any season, but be prepared for wind. In the summer, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Winter and early spring may bring snow, but not nearly as much as in nearby Flagstaff. Expect to see people here no matter when you visit.

Directions

From Flagstaff, take Interstate 40 east. Take the exit for U.S. Highway 89, then turn left. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 89. Take the entire scenic loop road through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument by turning right at the brown sign pointing to those two parks after about 12 miles, then turn right onto the road labeled for Wukoki Pueblo just before the visitor center.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Entrance to the park is $25 per vehicle and permits access for 7 days to both Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Interagency passes are also honored here. Visit the park's fees page for more information. There are pit toilets here, and the staffed visitor center further down the road has flush toilets and water in addition to educational exhibits and a gift shop.

External Links

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