Thursday, May 6, 2010

Citadel Ruins Trail at Wupatki

The Citadel Trail is a short but steep 0.2 miles to a large ruins structure sitting on a lava capped mesa. This trail is on the western side of Wupatki National Monument, north of Flagstaff in northeast Arizona.

At the base of the volcanic mesa is the Nalikihu Ruins site, the name a Hopi word for “House Outside the Village”. The wall arrangements show that this 800 year old farming site was built in stages and pottery styles similar to the Citadel indicate that both structures were used at the same time.

The Citadel has commanding views of the surrounding Antelope Prairie countryside. On the south side there is a large limestone sink hole and the San Francisco Peaks. The interpretive signs along the trail discuss why the Ancestral Pueblo people chose to build on these elevated locations, and perhaps it is for the excellent views.

The stonework at the Citadel incorporates the volcanic basalt rocks mixed in with the limestone and sandstone that the nearby Lomaki Trail sites use. The foundation for the site is a massive outcrop of the dark basalt volcanic rock.

From the Citadel mesa top there are eight pueblo ruins sites visible along the Earth Crack farming area to the west. Three of these sites are visited by the Lomaki Trail. It appears that at one time this was a large connected community. Farming in this area was affected by the water absorbing ash layer from the eruption of the nearby Sunset Crater. It is thought that this area was abandoned by 1250 AD.

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