March 19, 2012

3/13/12 –Walnut Canyon NM

We checked the weather report before heading north to Flagstaff.  It's a lot cooler at 7000’ than at 3500’!     
Walnut Canyon National Monument has really unique cliff dwellings.  About 800 years ago, the Sinagua people built houses under eroded limestone alcoves along the canyon walls.  The overhangs came ready-made with roofs and back walls, so all they had to do was build walls with doorways and smoke holes. 

Oh, yeah, and climb down 200’ from the rim—then back up to tend their crops. 
The wind was blowing like mad close to the rim, and I definitely didn’t want to get very close unless there were handrails.  Pit house ruins were further “inland”. 

An “island” of land was created by Walnut Creek as it carved out 3 sides of a plateau.  The CCC built a trail that loops around the ruins, with steps (240 of them!) for the tourists--we’re not as hardy as the Sinaguas.  (Be sure to see El Morro blog entry in October, 2011, for tips on how to handle elevation when you get huffy and puffy.)

There are 25 rooms and you can go into all but 2 of them.  Well, I could anyway.  George is a whole lot taller than the original occupants!


Some really interesting things grow in the cracks in the rocks. 


After we made the circle around the island, we remembered that what goes down must come up...

We stopped to talk to a volunteer before we finished the climb.  Someday we're going to volunteer at one of the parks.