..........................................................Arizona Jones Outdoors: Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking, and more!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater

Northeast of Flagstaff Arizona is a place that many people drive right by. They are on their way to The Grand Canyon or Lake Powell. But off the highway there is a loop drive that is packed with interesting things to see. This loop drive has two National Monuments, Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument. Sunset Crater is an area of volcanic activity including lava flows and cinder cones, with some as recent as 1000 years ago. If you are heading north on highway 89 the turn off is about 12 miles out of town on the right. This will take you to the visitors center for Sunset Crater. Along this road you will see some interesting lava flows and beautiful Sunset Crater. Sunset Crater is a great example of a cinder cone and is recent enough to still maintain it's shape. There are some nice short trails out into the lava flows that I feel are worth the short walk that have some interesting features and beautiful scenery. If you continue on through Sunset Crater the road will start dropping in elevation giving way to a less forested area and eventually high desert and you will enter Wupatki National Monument. Wuputki is around 2000 feet in elevation lower that the Sunset Crater area. Waputki National Monument is a large number of old pueblo ruins scattered over a large area. The park service says there are as many as 800 different identified ruins scattered over the large area that incorporates the park. Five of the largest ones are easy to visit and right off the road. The largest one is near the visitors center and is called Wupatki (Hopi for "Tall House"). This one is really two main structures and a round community room and a "ball court" all withing a short walk of the visitors center. The ball court is the northern most one of these that has been found and is usually something found in cultures from farther south. There is also a very interesting geological feature right near these ruins. There is this blowhole of vent that leads underground to some unknown passages and it will either blow air out or suck air in depending on temperature or pressure variables. It blows air out with astounding volume and pressure and is really quite fascinating. A second of the larger ruins in the park is called Wukoki Ruin ("Big House"). This one is east off the main road a bit but really is worth the short drive. Wukoki Ruin is built on a stone outcrop and has a tall tower like structure as it's main feature. It can be seen from a long distance away and is really quite beautiful in it's remote setting. As you head north out of the park and continue the loop there are several more sites to visit. My favorite of these is one of the last ones before you leave the park. It is called Lomaki or "Beautiful House". This one has about a half mile walk out to the main structure at the edge of a shallow canyon. There are several other small structures along the way as you walk out to the largest one. Sometimes I just go in the north entrance and stop at this ruin if I have limited time but still want to see some of it. Here is the National Monument web site for more info.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Live In A Cool Place!

I took this picture on my way to work the other day. Thats Court House Butte and Bell Rock as you drive into the Village Of Oak Creek in Sedona, AZ. The next one is some of the locals checking me out. As seen over at Red Rock State Park, in Sedona. Nothing special just another day going to work. Oh yea, and our weather has been in the 60s in mid winter. Life is rough here in central AZ. This one is less than five minutes walk up a trail off a residential area on Soldiers Pass Road
We once had a problem here with graffiti about 800 to a 1000 years ago. This rock is just sitting on the side of Salt Mine Road in residential Camp Verde. This classic Kokopeli Pictograph I found near Sedona out towards Loy Butte and the Honanki Ruins. And then there are some run down abandoned structures here and there. But I'm not complaining. This one is called Palatki. Note the cool medicine wheel pictograph on the cliff above the ruin. Ruins like this are all over the valley here.
This next one is called Montezumas Castle. It pretty well known in fact its one of the National Monuments in my little valley. And once in a while it snows. But really it just makes it more beautiful and it melts by the next day. This shot was taken right from the road, on Schnebly Hill Road, Sedona. Oh and did I tell you that I can trout fish a five minute walk from my house? Yea, I live in a cool place!
Not sold yet?  More on this great place to live.