Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments are managed collectively as the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. Together, they protect more than 40,000 acres and 3,000 archeological sites, in a landscape of expansive high deserts, canyons, mountains, mesas, and volcanic features.
Look up at Sunset Crater’s cinder cone, down into Walnut Canyon, and out across the Wupatki grasslands to the Painted Desert. How are they connected?
At all three monuments, the earth’s geologic past lies exposed, shaped by the violence of volcanic eruptions and by the slow erosion of older rock layers. Within canyon walls and in broad scenic vistas, catch glimpses of the distant past, of ancient seas and sand dunes, and of plants and animals that have adapted to live here today.
When Sunset Crater Volcano erupted less than 1000 years ago, there were people here to see it. The event changed their lives and influenced settlement at Wupatki and throughout the region.
The pueblos of Wupatki and the cliff homes of Walnut Canyon contain information that fuels archeological theories and confirms the stories and traditions of present day American Indian peoples, who still have strong ties to these places. Visit these sites and experience something of the lives of people here before us—their migrations, living conditions, conflicts, cooperation, ingenuity, achievements, and failings.
Preserving and protecting these landscapes, with their variety of natural and cultural components, saves information for future generations.