Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff is a unique historical site that is not to miss! The monument has two hikes, an up close look at Native American dwellings, and the Visitor Center offers informative resources. Don’t forget about the Junior Ranger Badge opportunity for kids too!
One of the most striking aspects of Walnut Canyon is its ancient ruin site. Running along the entire length of the canyon, there is a particular layer of soft rock that has eroded at a faster pace than the layers above and below it. This erosion created an ideal environment for a village of the Sinagua people.
Another feature of Walnut Canyon is the presence of a substantial “island” within the canyon. Connected to the canyon’s edge by a narrow ledge, it offers the opportunity to explore the ruins situated on the island.
The monument provides two hiking trails that commence from the Visitor Center. The first is a short rim trail hike, allowing amazing views of Walnut Canyon and passing by a mesa top ruin. Along the way, informative signs provide insights into the local plant life and how it was utilized by the Sinagua people. This flat and paved trail is 0.7 miles round trip.
The second hike, known as the Island Trail, leads down into the canyon through the ruins. This trail descends significantly, featuring over 300 stairs and a 185-foot drop in elevation. While it may not be suitable for everyone, it does not descend all the way to the canyon floor but rather to the soft rock layer where the homes were constructed. Keep in mind that what goes down must come up!
Although many ruins have crumbled over time, you can closely observe the ones still intact, nestled within crevices in the rock. You can still spot remnants of fire and smoke scorch marks. The trail eventually loops back to the descent point, from where you climb back up to the top. We 100% loved this hike and getting to respectfully explore the dwellings. It was worth the stair hike for sure,
It is important to note that the park closes at 5:00 PM, with restrictions on starting the hikes after specific times. The Rim Trail hike should be started by 4:30 PM, and for the Island Trail, the cutoff time is 4:00 PM. Plan your itinerary accordingly to make the most of your visit.
If hiking the Island Trail is not an option for your family, there is an overlook offering a panoramic view of the island within the canyon. While you won’t be able to observe the ruins on the island from this vantage point, you can catch a glimpse of a few ruins across the canyon. This is located in the visitor’s center.
Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff is a treasure trove of historical significance and natural beauty. Definitely put this spot on your list to visit! Learn more on their website.