Category: - NM&AZ 2011
 
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Ben and Marsha read about Wupaki ruins
Given Ben’s limited amount of time he wants to see and do as much as possible.   We are willing to indulge him but wondered if we could actually accomplish our goal for today which was to visit and enjoy three National Monuments in one day.   We had planned to go to Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater National Monument but Brantley Baird (see Thurs. May 26th) convinced us we needed to also go to Walnut Canyon National Monument.   We were glad we did but it made for a VERY LONG day. 

Walnut Canyon National Monument is on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Arizona.   We arrived with the first wave of morning visitors and began our 180-foot descent (thats 240 steps) into the canyon to view the cliff dwellings on the Island Trail.   The “island” is a promontory that juts out into the canyon.   There are 25 cliff dwellings along the trail and many others visible across the canyon.   There is the added attraction of excellent markers pointing out and explaining the plant life along the trail.  Since I was wearing a red shirt I also enjoyed the added benefit of being dived bombed by the hummingbirds that mistook me for a giant red flower.  

Another hour and several climate zones later we were at Wupatki National Monument.   Wupatki means Tall House in the Hopi language.    Occupation of this site began in the late 1100’s.   There are the ruins of the 100-room pueblo, a ceremonial room and a ball court.  There were probably 2000 people living in the area.   Near the ball court there is a geological blow hole. According to Wikipedia:

"A blowhole is also the name of a rare geologic feature in which air is either blown out or sucked into a small hole at the surface due to pressure differences between a closed underground cavern system and the surface. The blowholes ofWupatki National Monument are an example of such a phenomenon. It is estimated that the closed underground passages have a volume of at least seven billion cubic feet. Wind speeds can approach 30 miles per hour.

Despite the relief offered by the blowhole it was brutally hot during our visit there so we did not linger.

Sunset Crater National Monument.    The volcano erupted in the 11thcentury and blanketed the area (including Wupatki) with volcanic ash.   At this National Monument you view the crater from afar and view areas that still graphically show the results of the eruption.   


Since we were not yet totally exhausted and because Ben wanted to see a bit of Flagstaff itself we headed to Heritage Square.   Harry and I found a bench to view the scene and Ben took the more active approach of walking around the nearby streets.  

Then we piled back into the car and drove the spectacular Oak Creek Canyon road (Route 89A) from Flagstaff to Sedona.  

Arriving by providence in Sedona at the “magic hour” to photograph the Red Rocks.  

I could barely hold myself erect to eat dinner.  It had been a long day but we were all in good spirits and our minds and cameras filled with glorious images.    Plus I had three new place stamps in my National Park Passport.