Elevation: 7,000 ft
Elevation Gain: None
Having exhausted all the ruins near Sedona, the family unit decided to head north towards Flagstaff, which is 3,000 feet higher, and quite cooler than its trendier cousin to the south. I have always like the Flagstaff area because of its Ponderosa pines, which smell like my happy childhood summers camping around the west.
We hit two National Monuments near Flagstaff, the first one being Walnut Canyon. I am loath to pass up a tourist attraction, particularly if a new refrigerator magnet can be earned. I hate to say it, but the magnet was the best part of the outing.
Walnut Canyon National Monument contains a series of cliff dwellings that are simplistically constructed into the canyon walls. There are over 300 steps down into the canyon to view the more impressive ones. There was no way my Mother, who had gamely managed to get around thus far, was going to handle that. Instead, we took her out onto the nice viewing platform that angles downward 30 feet or so below the Visitor’s Center. You can see some dwellings from there as well as the canyon floor.
A typical portion of the Rim Trail. You can see a few of the dead trees in the distance. On part of the trail they were everywhere.We did walk the Rim Trail, which also has nice views of the canyon. There were a lot of dead trees in this area that turned out to be caused by Pine Beetle kill. We saw the tracks and scat of Mule Deer and one Juniper Titmouse that I managed to get a very blurry picture of. There are ruins of a pit house on the Rim Trail that is mildly interesting.
I don’t think I would drive 300 miles to see Walnut Canyon, but if you are in the area it would make a pleasant excursion. In milder weather, we were quite nipped after Sedona, a leisurely picnic on site would also be pleasant.