Friday, June 5, 2015

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Arizona

Walnut Canyon is located just a few miles south of Interstate 40 just east of Flagstaff.  Walnut Canyon has both a desert environment and a pine/oak forest and was inhabited during the years 800 through 1200 by the Sinagua people.

The canyon walls have many large rock overhangs, making it easy for the early settlers to erect thick walls held together with mud to form an enclosure for their homes.  Some of these walls and rooms are still evident today, on both sides of the canyon.

Since this canyon is located at over 6500', there was snowfall in the area.  They built fires in their homes, and the smoke stains still remain on the ceilings of the overhangs.  It is assumed that they covered the door openings with an animal skin to keep out the old.  We can still see the small opening near the ceiling to allow the smoke to escape from the home.

The trail to the dwellings winds down from the visitor center, partly path and partly steps, 240 steps throughout the path.  Doesn't seem like much going down, but it certainly does once you start climbing those 240 steps up!
As well as living inside the canyon walls, these people built pueblos on the flatlands on the rim, where they farmed crops.  These rooms seem to be much bigger and there are still some that have not been excavated.  In the late 1800s, the area became a popular destination for souvenir hunters scavenging for pottery and other items.   Unfortunately some history was lost until the government declared it a National Monument in 1915.
Off in the distance, you can still see the snow covered peaks of the San Francisco mountains.

And down at the rim of the canyon, wildflowers are blooming.


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