I (sort of) cheated and I didn’t even feel guilty about it.
I recently just got back from a wonderful trip to Colorado where we spent three glorious days snowboarding the slopes of Purgatory and Wolf Creek. So, yes, I cheated on Arizona and it was fabulous.
BUT- so was Wupatki. On our way home, we stopped at the Wupatki National Monument and spent a couple of hours exploring the area which was full of history and some pretty neat ruins. Since we were headed back to AZ, we entered the ruins from the northern entrance rather than the south entrance. It’s a 35-mile loop that will shoot you right back out to the 89 and it took us about 2.5 hours at a leisurely pace to see all that we wanted which included taking multiple photos and taking the 45-minute self-guided tour of the main ruin, Wupatki. If entering from the North entrance, it will take approximately 5 minutes until you get to the first set of ruins, Lomaki Pueblo. These ones take about 25 minutes to visit (including a short walk to the farthest one). You can visit several ruins for free prior to having to pay at the visitor center (where the main ruin, Wupatki, is located).
My guess is that the visitor center is about 15-20 minutes from the north entrance without stopping (with stopping for 25 minutes, it took us 45 minutes to get there, so just doing basic math here.) If you enter from the South, the visitor center is at the entrance but is for Sunset Crater, not Wupatki. (You can have access to both by paying the fee at either location). It will take you about 25 minutes from the South entrance to the Wupatki visitor center.
There are a handful of picnic areas throughout that include tables and bathrooms in addition to awesome viewpoints/lookouts.
The ruins themselves are pretty awesome to see in person as they really lay out how life was in the 1100’s. The surrounding land was used for farming by communities of puebloan people even though the soil wasn’t rich with nutrients. After awhile, they moved along to another area but their descendants still live nearby including Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo people. There were several rooms within the ruins themselves in addition to such things as a community gathering place and a ball court for games. The largest Wupatki dwelling had about 100 rooms.
To understand how large some of them really are, we took this photo of my husband standing next to one looking up: