Crack-in-Rock Hike

Hikers walking across a flat landscape of black volcanic cinders and red sandstone with cinder hills and snow capped mountains in the background.
Hikers and staff explore remote areas of the park on the Crack in Rock overnight back packing trip.

NPS - Amy Horn


October 2022 CIR Lottery Applications Are Now Closed


For a special ranger-guided backpacking experience, consider the Crack-in-the-Rock overnight hike, offered on weekends in April and October. This trip explores fantastic rock art and pueblo architecture in an area not normally open to the public. Hikes are led by a park ranger and a subject matter expert.

Activity Description
The roundtrip hike to Crack-in-Rock Pueblo and the nearby rock art is a two-day backpacking trip in an isolated area of Wupatki National Monument. Crack-in-Rock is a 12th- century Ancestral Puebloan site located on a mesa top. Numerous prehistoric and historic archeological sites are located along the way. These and other features will be discussed by the Wupatki National Monument staff member leading the hike.

The hike is approximately 18-20 miles round-trip over rough desert terrain at an elevation of approximately 4,500-4,900 feet. The route is cross-country; there is no designated trail. Hiking surfaces are uneven and vary from loose cinder to sandstone and limestone outcrops and talus slopes. Although overall elevation gain or loss is minimal, portions of the route include hiking in and out of washes and hilly areas. Please note that this is a rigorous hike over difficult terrain. There is minimal shade along the way. The vegetation, although sparse in many locations, can be thorny and sharp.

Weather can be extremely variable at Wupatki during the months of April and October. Temperatures can range from lows in the 20s-60s to highs in the 30s-90s, with average lows in the 40s, and highs in the 70s. While temperatures are inconsistent from one day to the next, a 30-degree difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures is generally the rule. Expect windy conditions which can often make balancing a heavy pack difficult. Snow and/or rain can occur in both April and October at Wupatki.

Level of Difficulty
This hike is strenuous. Travel is over challenging terrain; there are no trails. This is high desert country so no water is available at the campsite or along the way. Each hiker must carry a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day. Therefore, an empty pack will weigh a minimum of 16 pounds (8 pounds per gallon), plus the weight of the pack. After figuring in food, stove, tent, sleeping pad, and other needed equipment, a full pack can easily weigh 30 or 40 pounds or more. All hike participants must have the physical ability to hike in extreme temperatures over difficult terrain, and be able to carry their full pack for the complete duration of 16 miles.

The cost of this ranger guided activity is $75.00 per person (payable when selected to participate). Group size is limited to 15 people, including staff. Hikes are led up to four weekends in April and four weekends in October. Because the group size is small, and demand high, a lottery is held to select participants.

April Hike Sign Up: Applications are taken starting in February and the lottery is drawn the first week of March. Applications are taken via an online form which will be posted at that time.

October Hike Sign Up: Applications are taken starting in August and the lottery is drawn the first week of September. Applications are taken via an online form which will be posted at that time.

If you would like further information please call the Wupatki National Monument Visitor Center at (928) 679-2365.

To see more photos of the hike please visit our Facebook page at
Wupatki National Monument | Facebook

Hikers walking down a hill of red sandstone into a wash with large sandstone boulders above to the right.
Hikers during the April 2022 CIR hike walk down a large hill into a wash with layers of Moenkopi Sandstone above them.

NPS - Amy Horn

Last updated: September 1, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

6400 U.S. 89
Flagstaff , AZ 86004


928 679-2365

Contact Us

Stay Connected