Grand Classroom

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki was the grandest of the pueblos in the Grand Canyon region. Pueblo, from the Spanish “town” referred to the masonry of the apartment-like dwellings where the people lived. Most scholars believe that the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano led to its creation. In the years following the eruption, the ash provided a base layer on the ground that held moisture, making the land more arable. As the agriculture made the area more viable, spread out populations became more centralized, moving into the pueblos. It is believed the inhabitants of Wupatki only inhabited the area briefly before moving on.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Around A.D. 1100, the earth shook and the fiery, molten rock spewed forth from the sky on the Colorado Plateau. The inhabitants of the area were forced to flee. The sky was dark and forest fires ran rampant. The noise from the explosion was deafening. By the time the ash settled, people of the region returned to find a vastly altered landscape. Most noticeably, a 1,000 foot cinder cone emerged, creating a new mountain where there previously was only a meadow. The ash from the volcano, however, made the land more arable and people were able to farm the region whereas the land was mostly arid before. Today, plant and animal life has returned to the area around Sunset Crater Volcano and man is left to behold the might eruption nearly a millennium ago.

For more information:

A guide to Sunset Crater and Wupatki / written by Scott Thybony ; photography by George H.H. Huey. Tuscon, AZ,: Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, [1994?, c1987].

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument / [written by Rose Houk]. Tuscon, AZ: Southwest Parks Monuments Association, c1995.