Exploring Walnut Canyon’s Ancient Cliff Dwellings

Exploring Walnut Canyon’s Ancient Cliff Dwellings

On our way to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert here in Arizona, we noticed another little patch of green on the map…Walnut Canyon National Monument.

walnut canyon map

We just renewed our America the Beautiful pass and as a general rule, we don’t pass up a green spot on a map unless it’s crazy out of the way.

(The yearly pass is $80 and covers entrance fees at national parks, national wildlife refuges, amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.  Big savings if you are planning to visit at least a couple of parks in a year or do some boondocking)

Walnut Canyon National Monument is 3600 acres of curved canyon walls, cliff formations and of course the former homes of ancient people.

cliff dwellings

(it’s no wonder they lived in these cliffs, it’s the perfect camoflauge hideout)

cliff viewsthe island trailcanyon rim

Potentially, very very short ancient people.

small entry

We took a few minutes to sip on tea while trying to imagine what is was like living in a Sinagua culture or “mountains without water”.

tea for thought

We couldn’t even bring ourselves to downsize our RV much less live on so few resources.  I have always said I could do anything for a week and maybe a month.  In this cold weather, I think it would be a week tops.

tree in walnut canyonJason Wynn

rock formation

All in all it was an interesting look into our ancestor’s history with some very cool cliff views, and a great spot to get out and stretch our road-weary legs.

Our Suggestions:  Watch the quick 20min video in the visitor’s center so you know what you’re looking at.  Then take the 1mile Island Trail.  They note the trail as strenuous (because of stairs) and even with my injured ankle I found it to be very easy.

Have you been to Walnut Canyon or any of the other “green spaces” near Flagstaff?  Tell us about your experience in the comments.