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Walnut Canyon NP, Arizona

Not far from Meteor Crater is a very interesting place that used to be home to the cliff dwellers. We were told not to miss that National Park! It is located right off Interstate 40 heading West right before Flagstaff, AZ. 20181106_143631.jpg The small seasonal stream Walnut Creek has carved a 600 foot deep canyon as it flows east, eventually joining the Little Colorado River en route to the Grand Canyon. Today, the appearance of the canyon and ruins is quite reminiscent of the more well known Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, that we visited just days before.
Under limestone overhangs, the Sinagua built their homes. These single story structures, cliff dwellings, were occupied from about 1100 to 1250. The people that lived here moved on to become the modern pueblo people of today. Walnut Canyon is one of their ancestral homes. You can hike two trails, the rim and the island . We chose the island trail, a better and much more popular, although slightly more strenuous, 0.9 mile loop path that descends steeply (by 185 feet) via a series of 240 steps.
Once you reach the cliff dwellings you can't help but marvel at the breathtaking view of the cliffs and canyons. 20181106_144336.jpg
20181106_144347.jpg I tried to imagine how life must have been raising a family in a cave on the edge of a cliff. A terrifying thought as a mother, but they had it figured out and were adapted to that environment. I walked into the rooms that were nestled into the rockwall and noticed immediately the charred surface on the ceiling and wall, a sure sign of a fire that kept them warm and helped them prep their meals. Not all rooms were used as living space, they used the majority as storage rooms. Large urns made of clay held rainwater and were stored away against the cool rock walls.
Unlike Mesa Verde, you can enter all the dwellings and let your imagination take you back into the past of the Sinagua.
Walnut Canyon has been one of my favorite hikes, it is worth a visit when you're near Flagstaff AZ. 90_735AA3E8CF6E2437B8950A41545A1FF7.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 20:57

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