Thursday, October 2, 2014

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument is approximately 10 miles northeast of Flagstaff off of Highway 40. 
The park brochure states that there are 240 steps to descend 185 feet to the island trail! Walking the park trails is a great way for Roy and I to get in shape!  It takes a sharp eye, but the canyon wall to Roy's right has several cliff dwellings.  Enlarge the next picture to look for them!
Starting with the first ledge at the bottom of the picture you'll see dwellings tucked up under the rock ledge. Nothing was said about the rounded rock structure in the center of the first ledge, but it looks suspiciously man made to me!  The next ledge up shows a rocked in dwelling on the left side of the picture.  Higher up still on the left side are some rocked in dwellings that blend very well with the cliff wall.  On the right side of the picture are some square looking caves that were probably dwellings.  The cliff dwellings were built by the Sinagua Indians between 1125 and 1250.
The center rock formation is called the island.  There is a trail less than a mile long that goes around it at about its mid height which is still well above the canyon floor! The trail was only open along the right side of the island.
The trails were really gentle and pleasant to walk. Benches were provided along the way.
I'm always thrilled to see some beautiful wildflowers!
This trail leads up under a nice deep overhang with some dwellings built into it!
Roy and I could live here!  You can see where their fires discolored the walls.
This was a great dwelling, too!
Great trails and views!  Check out Roy's child size backpack.  It has a couple of side pockets perfect for bottles of water and is just the right size for carrying a few snacks and the literature the parks provide!
This was a super spot for a break on the way back!  The rock overhang is deep and the front is shaded by trees. The alcove and rocks were comfortably cool like being in a cave!  We enjoyed our backpack treats while resting in this pleasant place!
Look how refreshed we are for the hike back to the top!
This is the canyon wall across from where we were sitting.  There are dwellings in it, too!  The lower walls are fascinating.  They look like layers of mud from an ancient sea floor that have over time hardened into rock.
Here's Roy's great photo from our side of the canyon back toward a cliff dwelling on the canyon's opposing wall!  I love the plant growing on the rock!  Nature does such amazing things!
Here is a picture representation of what life might have looked like along the cliff dwellings!  It was estimated that at one time as many as 400 people may have lived in this Walnut Canyon community. I heard it said that with the canyon being quiet like it is today that it is hard to imagine a bustling community and the voices and laughter that would have traveled along the canyon walls, down along the base of the canyon and up on top.  That struck me as kind of profound and helped me envision life there a bit more!  For reasons unknown the Sinagua people moved out of these dwelling around 1250 and moved to new villages a few miles southeast along the Anderson Mesa.  They had inhabited the canyon for approximately 100 years!