Wupatki also has a couple large ruins, like the largest intact pueblo (also named Wupatki) and one thoroughly ruined ruin (is that redundant?), "the Citadel." The Citadel really makes you wonder just what it looked like in its prime. It perches on top of a large rock outcropping. As you're walking up the path, you can see a pretty impressive rock wall (photo above), but when you get to the top, things are basically level. Whatever rooms there were are completely filled in with rubble and sand. The photo below is the top of the Citadel. I don't know what sort of excavations have been done or when, but it would be interesting to know just how many rooms it had or how many stories high.
Or maybe they had one too many dry years and decided to move to where water was more plentiful. Farming in a desert is never easy even when the soil is especially fertile, and the soil in the Wupatki area isn't. Then when you factor in the reality it's high desert so the growing season isn't particularly long, you find yourself thinking it's moderately amazing they stuck it out as long as they did.
Wupatki was a nice change from the mob scene at Grand Canyon. We stopped at two different sites -- Lomaki and the Citadel -- before reaching the visitor center. In each case, there was only one or two other cars in the parking lot. It was nice being able to amble, enjoy the view, and take a really thorugh look at the ruins and the surrounding terrain without having to wait for anyone else to get out of the way or bumping into people on congested trails. It was all quite peaceful. It was clear that Wupatki gets a fair number of visitors but they're not arriving by the thousands all at once.
The busiest location at Wupatki was the Visitor Center, which appears to be a Mission 66 structure and definitely showing its age, and the ruins close to it. The parking lot was about half full when we arrived in mid-afternoon. Still, even though it was busy it didn't feel crowded. I have to say the visitors at Wupatki seemed better behaved than the ones at Grand Canyon. People were staying on the marked path, kids weren't running wild, and I didn't see anyone deciding it would be fun to perch on walls that signage told everyone to stay off.
Wupatki Pueblo is an impressive sight; the photos I've included here don't really do it justice. What intrigued me with all the ruins we saw was the way the builders worked around the natural landscape features, i.e., shaping the walls to conform to irregularities or outcroppings in the foundation rock. The walls are built from sandstone and limestone slabs held together with a clay mortar. The structures probably went up quickly but have stood the test of time quite well considering how often these ruins must have been visited by curious cowboys, ranchers, looters, and tourists before the national monument was created and they received some protection. All in all, this is an interesting little park and well worth visiting.