17 April 2010
Stay On The Trail
This week is fee free at over 100 national parks here in the US and Canada. I decided to take advantage of it by heading west to Flagstaff, AZ.
The day in Albuquerque started out dark and damp. By the time I made Flagstaff it was gorgeous and in the upper 60s. Perfect hiking weather.
I visited 'Flag' earlier in the year and went to Sunset Crater [see link at right].
This time around I was headed to Walnut Canyon National Monument.
In 1040 Sunset Crater volcano erupted and it disrupted the local people in the area around Flag.
The Sinagua people migrated south to Walnut Canyon and around 1100 [the High Middle Ages in Europe] began to build establishments.
Walnut Canyon is easily accesable from Interstate 40 from the east end of Flagstaff.
Should you find yourself taking on this adventure you might want to keep in mind one important fact: You have to walk over 200 steps down into the valley along stairs against the canyon wall.
I can't tell you enough: if you are not an avid hiker or not in the best physical condition or from low elevations you might want to re-consider this hike. There are no escalators or elevators to the canyon below. Ya gotta hoof it.
If you are afraid of heights you might want to re-consider this also as the path narrows and you are walking along the edge of the canyon. It is a long way down.
The canyon builders took advantage of natural recesses in the limestone walls. Over millions of years, flowing water eroded the softer rock layers, creating shallow caves.
The cliff dwellings were occupied for little more than 100 years.
Sinagua homes remained largely undisturbed until the 19th century. In the 1880s the railroad brought souvenir hunters. Theft and destruction prompted local efforts to preserve the canyon and soon drew national support. In 1915 Walnut Canyon was declared and national monument.
Notice the hikers just starting down... [click to enlarge].
Should you find yourself in Flag, make sure you take a trip [about 20 minutes away] to Walnut Canyon.
next post: An American Castle!