Place

Wukoki Pueblo

A red sandstone pueblo with a three-story tower sits in a desert landscape against a blue sky
Wukoki Pueblo

Quick Facts
Location:
Wupatki National Monument

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Toilet - Vault/Composting


Wukoki Pueblo is an impressive eight room structure built on top of a large sandstone pedestal. It was occupied between the early 1100s and mid 1200s CE. The trail is 0.2 miles round trip, accessible up to the base of the pueblo, and offers grand views of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff. The large tower was three stories tall and still contains original wood beams from the roof and ceiling structure. 

This trail is located a short 2.5 mile drive from the Wupatki Visitor Center. The parking lot is a one way loop with accessible and oversized vehicles spaces. There is a pit toilet next to the parking area. Pets are not allowed on this trail. Leashed service animals are ok. 
 

Cultural and Historical Importance

A partial excavation done by archeologist Jesse Walter Fewkes in 1896 revealed not only superb architecture but also the work of skilled artisans. He recovered beautifully designed pottery, a bracelet of shells, and ear pendants of stone with turquoise mosaic inlay. These artifacts have provided clues to who lived here and when.

The original grandeur of Wukoki is still evident. There were three stories in what seems to be a tower. A total of six or seven rooms may have been home to two or three families. The open area adjacent to the tower was a plaza used for daily activities, pottery making, basket weaving, and other chores. The plaza was enclosed by a semicircular parapet wall. 

The encompassing view may have been the motive for building on the sandstone outcrop. We don't know exactly why they chose to build where they did, but the height and location of Wukoki are extraordinary. 
 

The 'real' Wukoki

In 1891 and 1893, Fewkes visited Walpi pueblo on the present-day Hopi reservation. On one of his visits he heard the origin of the Snake Clan. According to legend, the clan migrated from Tokonave near Navajo Mountain to the great house Wukoki before moving on to Walpi. Wukoki was said to have been located 50 miles west of Walpi by the Little Colorado River, but its exact location was uncertain. 

Fewkes did locate dwellings, within what is now Wupatki National Monument, that he believed to be the Wukoki of the Snake Clan legend. Initially he referred to the entire area as Wukoki. As he grew more familiar with the individual pueblos, Fewkes specifically applied the name Wukoki to the largest pueblo. Wukoki means "big house" in Hopi. 

Over time, the pueblo Fewkes called Wukoki became widely known as Wupatki instead. This also became the name of the national monuments in 1924. The name Wukoki was assigned to the nearby pueblo we know by that name today. 

Although it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Wukoki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned. Thank you for visiting respectfully and leaving no trace. 
 

Wupatki National Monument

Last updated: January 11, 2024