The Visitor Center at Wupatki National Monument, under construction since January, will reopen to the public on Aug. 25. In addition to painting and electrical rewiring, the most noticeable improvement is the installation of all new interpretive exhibits to replace those installed in the 1960s. The visitor center is now a "must see" for visitors, where they can learn about current scientific findings and explore cultural perspectives on the area.
The public is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25, to celebrate both the completion of this major project and the 89th anniversary of the National Park Service, which was established on this date in 1916. No entrance fees will be charged for the day, and special interpretive programs will be offered after the ceremony. A series of interpretive talks, backcountry guided hikes, and demonstrations of ancient technology skills will continue throughout the weekend. Hopi weaver Ronson Gashweseoma will also be on-site demonstrating weaving techniques.
Funded through the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, the new exhibits and building upgrades represent countless hours of effort by National Park Service staff and partners. Exhibit design and fabrication was accomplished though a partnership with the Museum of Northern Arizona. "The relationship between MNA and the Flagstaff Area National Monuments goes back to their creation; it is fitting that we have worked together to better interpret this area for our visitors," said NPS Exhibit Specialist Sue Fischer. "The list of other partners on this project is quite extensive and includes various tribal representatives, scientists, academics, and staff from other agencies. The support has been overwhelming."
Wupatki was established in 1924 to protect the ancient dwellings of Puebloan peoples, and figures prominently in the history and culture of several American Indian tribes.
"Wupatki offers a wonderful opportunity for the public to learn the complex stories of people interacting with their environment and with each other over time. We encourage everyone to come out, enjoy the new look of the visitor center and participate in the weekend's special events," said Park Superintendent Palma Wilson.
Wupatki National Monument is located 26 miles north of Flagstaff via Highway 89. Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon are managed together as the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. All are open in summer from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. MST. In commemoration of National Park Service Founders Day, entrance fees will be waived for all three monuments on Aug. 25, and special interpretive programs will be offered throughout the weekend. For additional information, call 928-679-2365 (Wupatki Visitor Center), 928-526-0502 (Sunset Crater Volcano), or 928-526-3367 (Walnut Canyon).