March 16, 2019
I know, this post is a little out of sequence. It should have been posted before “Hit By A Dustdevil”. Hey, I’m not perfect, OK?
What I didn’t tell you is how nice it is to cross the shoulder of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest being Mt. Humphreys at 12,633 feet. Flagstaff (70,300 souls) is the largest city north of Phoenix. It’s a really nice city situated in prime location for businesses such as Purina PetCare and is home to the Lowell Observatory and the Northern Arizona University.
What we didn’t know was what the heck is at Walnut Canyon. The canyon is located just east of Flagstaff about three miles south of I-40. We decided to go find out since we had a short travel day. We got there a half hour before Walnut Canyon National Monument opened, so we took the dogs for a walk before the gates opened.
The following is an excerpt from the National Park Service website:
Walnut Canyon has a long human history. Artifacts show that Archaic peoples occupied the canyon at times. Later came the first permanent inhabitants, who flourished in the region from about A.D. 600 until 1400. Archeologists labeled this prehistoric culture Sinagua, from the old Spanish name for the region, Sierra de Sin Agua, or “mountains without water.”
Scattered families farmed the canyon rims for centuries, growing small gardens of corn, squash, and beans. During the 1100s, many moved into limestone alcoves below the canyon rim, where they constructed the cliff dwellings we see today. The Walnut Canyon community thrived for another 150 years before the people moved on.
Others have visited the canyon since the Ancients departed. With the construction of the railroad nearby in the 1880s, Walnut Canyon became a popular destination; scores of “pot-hunters” streamed into the canyon. Armed with shovels and dynamite, these souvenir-seekers upturned ancient floors, toppled enduring walls, and desecrated graves.
The theft and destruction alarmed local citizens and led to establishment of Walnut Canyon National Monument in 1915. Remnants of the canyon’s past were protected first by the US Forest Service, then (since 1934) by the National Park Service.
Dogs aren’t allowed in the canyon so we parked and then walked the rim trail. We could see quite a few of the 25 cliff structures. It amazes us that folks would prefer to live on the cliffs
Flagstaff has a strong tourism factor due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, Sedona, and historic Route 66. We’ve stayed in this area before and enjoyed what it has to offer but hadn’t visited Walnut Canyon. Downtown Flagstaff’s streets aren’t terribly RV friendly so we decide to push on to Kingman.