Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 5 Part II- Walnut Canyon National Momument

After our blow through tour of Sedona, we returned back to Flagstaff and headed out 40East on I-40, towards the Petrified forest. We had decided to make one detour, just a few minutes outside of Flagstaff at a place called Walnut Creek. It is a national monument, so our pass covered it.  I had read about it online and it looked interesting.  As I said in a previous post, when you do research online and see pictures, there is really no way to imagine the scope.  Im not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it wasnt what we ended up getting.  It was WAY better.

When you see Walnut Canyon in photos, you dont realize just how amazing it is.
It was home to the Sinagua people almost 1000 years ago.  They built up walls under the cliff overhangs, and lived there. They were like the first condos. seriously.

I knew there was a mile hike loop to the ruins, but like I said I didnt know what I was really getting into once I got there.
We headed out down the trail and immediately were blown away.  You can see these ancient dwelling ruins ALL OVER THE PLACE. Throughout the entire canyon.

The Ranger at the visitors center said that the trail loop hike was about a mile, and you had to go down about 288 steps and wind around the canyon.  And what goes down, must come back up...
we headed out on the trail.  We descended down the zillion stairs onto a "path". I say path in the loosest sense of the terms.  It was definitely a trail, but it was not paved.  There were no rails.  You were one step between sure footing and the cliff edge/death.  Just the kind of hike two adventurous boys love.
I felt like I was constantly saying "ah ah ah...back from the edge young man".  or "Stay where I can see you:" or "Slow down!"
Alll throughout this rim hike we came across various overhangs and ruins.

There were ruins everywhere.


more steps...

you can see the an apartment complex

The trip back UP the stairs was really difficult.  We met a ranger on the way back up to the visitors center and stopped and talked to him for a bit.(Plus it was a great excuse to rest for a moment).
I REALLY loved Walnut Creek. It was absolutely amazing. It was kind of a preview of Mesa Verde.(Not nearly the same grand scale, but similar concept).

This was absolutely the best side trip.  Takes about 2 hours, taking your time.   A hidden gem.
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