The Citadel is one of the larger ruins at Wupatki. It dates back to the late 1100’s. It is unknown why the area became abandoned by 1250, although the area’s drought is thought to be a strong possibility. A short hilly trail is required to explore the Citadel ruins. It is unknown why this pueblo was built atop a hill, although it may be the same reason why we build homes in scenic areas today – to enjoy the views!

The Citadel at Wupatki National Monument

Beautiful views from The Citadel at Wupatki National Monument

Views of the San Francisco Peaks from the Citadel

Wupatki and Sunset Crater are connected via a scenic 36 mile drive. Be sure to plan a visit to both monuments as they are both included with your admission fee. Sunset Crater’s last eruption was about 1000 years ago – be sure to take a self guided walk along the Lava Flow trail.

Lava Flow trail at Sunset Crater in Northern Arizona

A scenic view from the Lava Flow trail at Sunset Crater.

The drive itself is scenic with a gorgeous overlook featuring spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks in any season. The best aspect of the drive is the opportunity to explore diverse scenery, as the landscapes vary from sparse desert vegetation to towering ponderosa pines as the elevation rises over 2000 feet along the way.

Views of Sunset Crater from Bonito Meadow

Views of Sunset Crater from the scenic drive.

Views of the San Francisco Peaks and spring wildflowers from Bonito Meadow

Spring wildflowers with the Peaks in the background (at Bonito Meadow) provide a stunning setting for photography.

Views of the Peaks from Sunset Crater-Wupatki scenic drive in Flagstaff

A winter drive along the Wupatki-Sunset Crater scenic loop road is also a must-do, due to the terrific snowy scenery capping the San Francisco Peaks!

Tips

Drink plenty of water. You are in a dry, high altitude desert climate. Drink even if you are not thirsty to prevent dehydration and altitude sickness.

If looking for a budget friendly alternative, consider visiting on a National Park free day. There are 10 free admission days in 2017.

Pick up a guide in the visitors center. If you would like to learn more about each pueblo and the history of the Native American tribes who lived here, it is a valuable resource. It’s free to browse through during your Wupatki hike.

I recommend buying an annual pass for $80 if you plan on attending other national parks/monuments within the year.

Location & Pricing

Wupatki is located at 25137 N Wupatki Loop Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004. The $20 vehicle pass fee includes entry to both Wupatki and Sunset Crater.