The Grand Canyon, Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano are some of the geologic and cultural gems of the National Park Service. This summer, KNAU's Earth Notes series will highlight these, and other special places across the Southwest in honor of the Park Service's 100th anniversary. In the second installment of the series, we hear about how Wupatki's population survived there a thousand years ago despite the area's extreme arid environment.
The region around Wupatki National Monument on the San Francisco Plateau is so dry it was called the Sierra Sin Agua, or “Mountains Without Water,” by early Spanish explorers. Yet from the 11th to 13th centuries this region supported a population of between several hundred and 2,000 people. How did they do it?