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Monday, July 30, 2012

Walking Wupatki: Part 1

One of the Box Canyon ruins

Over the next few days, I'll be chronicling my one-day hike-drive in Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater National Park. This two-park tour is famous for its multi-cultural Native American ruins, volcanic geology and outstanding Painted Desert views. Also, the park's 2,000-foot elevation variance blends desert scrublands, rich pine forests, sandstone mesas and rivers of lava for perhaps the most complex cluster of hiking trails in Arizona. 
Lomaki Pueblo
Using the 35-mile "volcanoes and ruins loop road” north of Flagstaff as the main travel artery, I made six stops for short hikes totaling 4.25 miles.  First up: Lomaki Pueblo & Box Canyon.  Located at the north end of the park on the high plains of the San Francisco Volcanic Field, this collection of red-sandstone ruins built on a gaping earth crack have not been restored, so visitors can marvel at the precision architecture and mortar work that has held up for more than 800 years.  Three main structures teeter on the edge of a narrow box canyon where the original inhabitants may have farmed and used imaginative technology to harvest rain water.  Interpretive signs along trail augment the hike with insights into pertinent archeological research.
Box Canyon ruins

LENGTH: 0.5-mile loop
RATING: easy (non-paved, some steps)
ELEVATION: 5,325'-5,350'
From Flagstaff, travel north on US 180 to milepost 444.5 (north entrance to the parks).  Turn right and continue 4 miles to the Lomaki turn off on the left. Roads are 100% paved.
FACILITIES: restroom, picnic table
HOURS: open year-round sunrise to sunset
FEE: $5 per person, good for 7 days at both Wupatki and Sunset Crater
PETS: are not allowed on any park trails or in buildings.  Please do not leave pets in cars---heat can be fatal, even on cool days.
INFO: National Park Service, 928-679-2365


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