Two weekends ago we went out to Wupatki National Monument for a photo shoot. A friend of ours wanted to take a family picture of us. Sounds really nice, doesn't it? Well, we're a photo-phobic family (except Max), so we whined about this for a very long time.
But in the end, Wupatki at sunset was absolutely beautiful, getting to spend unhurried time together as a family was wonderful, and seeing our friends was great.
The Grand Canyon is the obvious landmark of northern Arizona. There are also a bunch of smaller national parks and monuments nearby. While the canyon is indeed grand and pretty much beyond words, I find that I prefer these smaller parks. They're smaller in scale, they have fewer visitors, and they're much easier to get to know. Wupatki and Sunset Crater are like friends I'd have over for a potluck, while the Grand Canyon is a celebrity who I wave to as she drives by in her convertible. This isn't really fair to the canyon, lots of people get to know it "personally", but until Max is more interested in the canyon than in the bus system serving it, we're sticking with the smaller parks.
Do you have a favorite "close friend" park/monument? Please tell me about it in the comments. (Especially if it's on one of our favorite driving routes between Flagstaff and Boston.) Let's advocate for the lesser-known places!
Wupatki is thought to have been occupied as recently as 800 years ago. There may have been 100 people living just at Wupatki Pueblo, with several thousand more within the "metropolitan" area (within a day's walk). There are 5 accessible pueblos (clusters of buildings in various states of preservation) with many more scattered over the large area of the national monument.
The photo at the top is Wukoki Pueblo, built atop a rock outcropping. The tall building has multiple storys, you can see the remains of the logs used as ceiling/floor. The doorways are very short and narrow, to minimize heat loss. The view from up there is spectacular.
We enjoyed the view for a while, but then got back to the business of taking our picture. Corey decided he would rather go to a different pueblo, so we packed back into cars and drove to the Citadel. It doesn't have the tall buildings of Wukoki, but it does have an equally spectacular view, and there are fewer precipices over which we might lose the children. Here's Corey checking the light:
The kids playing:
It was a very nice afternoon.