Walnut Canyon National Monument

The Walnut Canyon National Monument is a vast canyon southeast of Flagstaff in Arizona featuring extraordinary geological formations. Situated approximately 10 miles from Flagstaff, the canyon’s rim is 6,690 feet high with the canyon floor is 350 foot lower and features the former homes of an ancient pre-Columbian cultural tribe known as the Sinagua who lived in the Walnut Canyon from about 1100 to 1250 CE. The 25 cliff dwellings constructed by the tribe are set along a near-mile-long loop walking trail, which descends 185 foot into the canyon. Visitors can visit the ancient pueblos and discover how the ancient tribe lived. Photo: malkolm/Fotolia

»History & Geology

History & Geology

The Sinagua (Spanish for ‘without water’) tribe lived in unique dwellings within the Walnut Canyon until 1250 CE until they mysteriously disappeared. Thought to be active traders, the Sinagua were highly accomplished at residing in the harsh, dry conditions of the area where water was scarce, and dwellings were located deep within the canyon, taking advantage of the natural recesses and tucked under limestone ledges for maximum coolness. The small, but adequate cave-like dwellings measure approximately two meters high by six meters long by three meters deep and could fit a single family.

Set on the Colorado Plateau, the Walnut Canyon cuts through the Permian Kaibab Limestone formation that forms the rim of the Grand Canyon and features Coconino Sandstone. The Walnut Canyon site is home to Walnut Creek, which carved a 600-foot deep east-flowing canyon and eventually flows into the Little Colorado River on its way to the Grand Canyon. The canyon walls have three distinct layers of rocks, namely Kaibab Limestone in the upper third of the Canyon, where the cliff dwellings are found; Toroweap Formation in the middle; and sheer Coconino Sandstone in the lower third of the canyon. Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia

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»Fauna, Flora & Trails

Fauna, Flora & Trails

Due to the area's dry climate, the Walnut Canyon is home to a diverse array of wildlife, with over 380 different plant species, including the Arizona black walnut and the Prickly Pear cactus, as well as includes numerous sensitive plant species. The shaded, north- facing walls of the canyon are covered in fir and ponderosa pine trees, while the sunny, south facing slopes feature agaves and several species of cactus, including echnocereus, cholla, and opuntia. The floor of the canyon is home to several species of walnut trees, for which the canyon is named.

The Walnut Canyon features two walking trails, namely the 0.7 mile Rim Trail and the 0.9 mile Island Trail. The Rim Trail traverses the canyon rim and ends at a viewpoint on the edge from which beautiful views can be enjoyed, while the slightly more strenuous Island Trail loops around the canyon. Both walking trails begin at the Visitor Center where detailed information about each trail can be found. Photo: jon manjeot/Fotolia

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»Education & Visitor Information

Education & Visitor Information

The Walnut Canyon National Monument offers guided field trips for visitors of all ages with fact sheets for young learners and students.

The Walnut Canyon National Monument is located in the Coconino National Forest on Canyon Road and is open to the public every day of the year, except December 25. The Monument is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from May through October, and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm for the remainder of the year. The Walnut Canyon National Monument Visitor Center is the starting point for all visits to Walnut Canyon and offers a variety of information about the Canyon and its fauna and flora.

Back to: Flagstaff Address: Coconino National Forest, 3 Walnut Canyon Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, website, Phone: 928-526-3367 Photo: jon manjeot/Fotolia

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Things to Do in Flagstaff, Arizona: Walnut Canyon National Monument