Western U.S. Loop: Walnut Canyon

Travel Date: September 28, 2018

We packed up from our overnight stay at La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona to drive up to my uncle and aunt’s home in Cottonwood. On the way we stopped for a short hike at Walnut Canyon National Monument which is just a few miles east of Flagstaff. This area was home to the cliff dwelling Sinagua -Spanish for “Without Water”) people in the 12th and 13th century CE. We’ve visited other, similar sites in the American southwest in the past few years.

These were tough people. They built their home in the cliffs and farmed down in the valleys near the rivers. This means they had to haul EVERYTHING up steep slopes to their dwellings; water, stones, food, you name it.

A beautiful overview of the area opens up just behind the visitors’ center. You can get a good idea of the obstacles the inhabitants face in building their homes. I think the loop trail  goes along part of the mountain on the left side of the picture below.

Oak Canyon National Monument from the Visitor Center

Walnut Canyon National Monument from the Visitor Center

On the trail we saw cliff dwellings on the cliff face across the canyon.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument

Closer views of the cliff dwellings:

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Closer yet:

Cliff dwelling ruins on the cliff face opposite the trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument

Cliff dwelling ruins on the cliff face opposite the trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument

Then we got to walk through one of the ruins on our trail.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Dwelling ruins at Walnut Canyon National Monument

The author looking at the ruins of a dwelling in Walnut Canyon National Monument. Photo credit: Carla

The author looking at the ruins of a dwelling in Walnut Canyon National Monument. Photo credit: Carla

Here is a view showing challenges of living on a cliff face. It’s not easy venturing out.

Cliffs at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Photo credit: Carla

Cliffs at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Photo credit: Carla

Plants and birds make their homes on the cliff faces.

Flowers growing on a Walnut Canyon cliff face.

Flowers growing on a Walnut Canyon cliff face.

Cactus growing on a Walnut Canyon cliff face.

Cactus growing on a Walnut Canyon cliff face.

Foraging bird on a Walnut Canyon cliff face.

Foraging bird on a Walnut Canyon cliff face.

Like our other hikes on this trip we started at 6,690 feet (2,040 meters) which is over 1,000 feet(305 meters)  above sea level. So, once again we huffed and puffed and rested a bit on the way back up to the visitors’ center.

View of the Walnut Canyon National Monument from the trail.

View of the Walnut Canyon National Monument from the trail.

Even given the elevation change this is a fairly easy hike with a packed trail. Stairs along the way and steep stretches means this is not wheelchair accessible. The Grand Canyon is within 100 miles and gets most of the attention; but this is still a great option for an informative and beautiful hike.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
This entry was posted in Foliage and Landscape, National Parks, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Western U.S. Loop: Walnut Canyon

  1. Pingback: Western U.S. Loop: Cottonwood to Kanab | 2for66

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