One of the best things about a road trip is finding
interesting places to visit that you weren’t even aware of. It was serendipity
that led Larry and me to discover Walnut Canyon National Monument, ten miles southeast of Flagstaff in
north Arizona, on our way to Sedona.
Looking down into the canyon
As devoted fans of national parks, we’re always amazed that there are many locations in the park system that we know nothing about. But we’re okay with making an unscheduled stop to check out a new destination. A quick Google search told us that the monument preserves some of the Southwest’s earliest history in cave dwellings of the 12th century Sinagua (meaning “without water”).
The Island Trail drops down 240 concrete steps into the depths of Walnut Canyon, where it loops around a rocky butte called the Island, which was created by the meanderings of Walnut Creek. The trail passes 25 partially restored, but amazingly well preserved, cliff dwellings constructed roughly 800 years ago.
|Rugged, steep canyon walls|
|Curved ledges provided shelter|
|Depiction of what rooms may have been like|
We finished the path and exited the canyon after an
hour, much better informed about how native people adapted and survived in what
was at that time an almost inaccessible environment. It’s worth visiting to
gain an appreciation for their hardiness.
Protective ledges gave shelter
Walnut Canyon Monument is open daily from 9:00-4:30 (except early closure at 1:00 on Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1). Cost is $25 per vehicle that is good for 7 days. If you have a park pass (best bargain in the U.S.), there’s no additional charge.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier