Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings

Yesterday afternoon I spent several hours hiking at Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  It's a relatively small park, and judging by the size  of the parking lot, lightly visited.  I bet on an early morning visit I would have had the trails pretty much to myself.  

Just past this sign was another small sign noting very limited turn around at the park.  Evidently this information takes people by surprise because I came upon a BIG fifth wheel making a very risky u-turn in the road while dragging a long gouge in the pavement.  Hope they didn't have too much damage to their rig.


The Visitors Center is built on the edge of the canyon and the access to the Island Trail is actually downstairs through the building.  The huge beams and beautiful rock work is typical of the CCC construction of the 30s.  The addition of an elevator for ADA allows access to the lower patio overlooking the canyon.


Many even more recent upgrades are evident through out the little park.  A crew was working on the roof.   New benches along the trails.   And these great signs.....


The Island Trail,  240 steps,  184 feet drop, and about a mile long begins with a series of steps built, again, by CCC crews.  Looking down......


And back up.....


The trail levels out to bend around the canyon wall with views of cliff dwellings across the creek.


(Love those rocks hanging on the edge of the sandstone cliff!)


Way back up at the top the Visitors Center hangs over the canyon.


The layers of limestone rest on the swirls of Coconino Sandstone.


It was really, really dry in the canyon.  Today, the people who built the cliff dwellings are called Sinagua....Spanish for 'without water'.

The plants at the lower elevations of the canyon are typical of the Sonoran Desert.  Along the rims it's ponderosa pine and oaks.  It was way too hot and dry for many flowers; still the Fairy Dusters were blooming!


(Walnut Canyon is 10 miles east of Flagstaff on 40.  No camping.  But there is a really nice KOA near Williams, with nice pines and big sites; everything looks brand new!).