Between Flagstaff and the east entrance to the Grand Canyon there is a small brown sign on the side of US 89 for Wupatki National Monument. I wasn’t planning on visiting, but it looked to be worth at least a brief stop on my way to the Canyon.
Turning off the highway the road winds through a grassland for several miles before the first trailhead appears. Following this trail leads to a cluster of pueblo ruins along a small canyon unseen from the road. Information signs provide an idea of how the former inhabitants used clever ways of water management to farm the canyon floor in an environment that doesn’t appear to be overly conducive for farming. In addition, signs describe how these apparently isolated small pueblos were part of a much larger community spread across the area.
Once back in the car, the next trailhead wasn’t overly far down the road. This led to a short walk up to another pueblo but instead of being hidden in a canyon this one was located right on top of a hill and visible for miles. Again there was a good balance of informative signs but not so many that it detracted from the overall impression of the site.
The road led onward through the grassland toward the visitor center and the main pueblo, but having spent more than the time I had given myself for the diversion on the first two sites I opted to turn back and continue the rest of my trip, leaving the other side of the monument as something to explore on a future visit.