The people who lived here and built the structures today called Wupatki Monument have been dubbed Anasazi (Navajo for "the ancient ones"), and Sinagua (Spanish for "without water"). As much play as it's getting these years, the actual meaning of the word Anasazi is not understood by most people who employ it.
The builders of these structures were dry-land farmers who moved back into this area after the eruption of Sunset Crater volcano in the winter of 1064-65. The volcanic ash from the eruption covered eight hundred square miles, and provided a richness to the land with its moisture-retaining qualities.
Farmers archeologists label as belonging to Anasazi, Hohokam, and Mogollon backgrounds came into the area replete with concepts of villages, building techniques, arts, crafts and religion. Many villages sprang up some with two- and three-story pueblos providing a physical type of cohesion for the people sharing the land. The historians believe it was a combination of too many farmers quickly depleting the soil, and the advent of a sustained drought beginning in 1215, which forced the people to leave this area.
Wupatki Monument occupies 56 square miles of dry, rugged land on the southwestern part of the Colorado Plateau directly to the west of the Little Colorado River. A paved loop road connects at both ends with U.S. 89; the Wupatki Visitor Center is 14 miles from the northern end of the road, 24 miles from the southern end, and 14 miles from Sunset Crater Monument. Exhibits in the visitor center depict the daily lives of the inhabitants of the Wupatki dwellings in the 12th and 13th centuries.
A short self-guided walking tour of the main Wupatki pueblo, the largest ruin within monument boundaries, begins behind the visitor center.
Other ruins within the monument may also be reached by trails. Lomaki ruin lies 1/2-mile off the main loop road. Citadel and Nalakihu ruins are situated beside a roadside pullout. A 3-mile road beginning 1/4-mile from the visitor center leads to Wukoki ruin.
Sunset Crater Monument features an unusual 1,000-foot volcanic cone and its susidiary formations.