Wupatki National Monument: Monsoon Experience

We’d known that a big storm was on its way.

Black clouds were at a distance across the Painted Desert. The summer is Monsoon Season in the West, so the timing was right for an afternoon storm.

We were exploring the Wupatki National Monument, a pueblo ruins on the edge of the Painted Desert that captures the beauty of pueblo design and the big view of the landscape. The pueblo walls remain along with the walls of the circular community room and a ballcourt. The area has that magical feel of both connecting you with Nature and with the magic of those who lived there.

A cool breeze arrived, and, within moments, we felt a few large raindrops. We knew the monsoon was upon us. More than a dozen others were visiting the pueblo ruins. With shouts, they began running back to the visitors’ center. But there wouldn’t be enough time to get there before the monsoon hit, we said, as the center was about a hundred yards away.

We remembered that one of the pueblo areas had a section of a wall that was somewhat scooped out. The torrent of rain arrived just as we tucked into the pueblo wall. What a storm. The rain poured – often changing directions in the blowing wind and even raining sideways. Lightning cracked and thunder rumbled.

Inspiration for a flute song

As the monsoon continued, I got out my Native American flute and played, matching my playing to the drama of the storm.

At one point, hail pelted the floor of the pueblo. The storm lasted for about 15 minutes. We were reminded of the raw power of nature and the importance for the occupants of the Wupatki pueblo about 900 years ago to being in tune with Nature and her signs. They didn’t have The Weather Channel, Gortex rain jackets or Tevas. The ruins and the whole area were charged with an energy. The once dusty path was muddy and filled with puddles. How that water would have been captured and cherished by the pueblo dwellers.

We enjoyed our opportunity to be the sole occupants of the pueblo. We watched as ravens flew overhead and wondered where had they taken refuge during the storm.

As the pueblo visitors returned to the ruins, we walked back to the visitors’ center.

“Were you out there during the monsoon?” the ranger asked when we returned to the visitors’ center. We told her that we were and where we had been during the storm.

“Wow,” she said. “That’s great. I wish I’d been there.” She spoke with a tone of awe in her voice.

And we understood.

That was a memorable experience. Monsoon at Wupatki


  1. Hi; Judy! A bunch of fluties at Scott August’s Anasazi flute school visited pueblo ruins in Chaco Canyon, NM, today. I was struck by the stillness of the area and almost struck by the heat. We all survived and saw the room where a bunch of flutes were discovered. Thanks for reporting!


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