At Sunset Crater, we parked and took a 1 mile walk through a lava field. There are many volcanos in this part of Arizona. There are several explanations for why there are so many in this area. You'll have to read the guide book to get the explanation, but it has something to do with the fissures between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province to the south. Got that? There are also different types of volcanos which are also explained in the guide. Speaking of which, the guide can be borrowed and returned or bought for $1. Pretty good deal. The San Francisco Peaks,seen in the background of the photo above, are the remnants one type of volcano. They are about 12,500 feet high now but were probably over 16,000 feet before erupting.
From here we drove out of the lava field and ash covered hills into a part of the "Painted Desert". It was an amazing site to see the grey ash end abruptly and see the multi-colored layers of rock in the distance. This is where the Wupatki Ruins are. They are one of a number of ruins located in this area. It appears that this area was built and occupied after the eruption of the volcanos. Maybe the eruption drew people to the area. Wupatki was settled by the ancestors of the Hopi and had 100 rooms, some for collecting scarce water, some for storage, some for community activities. They lived by farming and trading. There was no irrigation system so they may have carried water in some of the many pots found at the site. Archeologists think that upwards of 2000 people lived within a days walk of the ruins. Evidently, this ruin is more typical of the homes of the time as compared with the cliff-dwellings of the Sedona area.