We had one day in Flagstaff, Arizona to explore. It certainly was not enough. We’d love to go back and do more, but the one thing we chose was Walnut Canyon National Monument. The day before we had spend at the Grand Canyon and while we thoroughly enjoyed our day, I think every one of us were dying to go IN the canyon. Walnut Canyon is much smaller and a great place to hike!
We decided there were three things necessary for the Island trail: hats, sunscreen, and good shoes! Oh and water, take water. I guess there’s four things you need! We purchased hats inside in the visitor’s center, and I thought the kids looked super cute. After initially walking in we took kids back to the van to change their shoes. When doing this we actually saw a couple going back home for a change of shoes and then saw them on the trail later.
National Monument? Those words always make me think of a statue or plaque somewhere and to me sounds kind of…boring. Not so. A national monument is just historical site or a government protected area. What you will see at Walnut Canyon is cliff dwellings!
The Island Trail leads you down into the canyon, where you will hike around a giant rock island. There are 25 cliff dwelling rooms along the trail and many more can be seen across the canyon.
The trails are paved and easy to navigate. We kept a firm hold on our youngest two boys. Though the trails are wide and not scary, you are walking along the canyon with cliff on one side the entire time.
The kid really loved being able to go in many of the cliff dwellings and imagining what life would have been like living up there on a rock.
The Island Trail is one mile round trip. It is considered strenuous because of the elevation the fact that it descends 185 vertical feet into the canyon, and returns the same way.
The walk down into the canyon was definitely much easier than the walk back up!
My son absolutely loved looking at the plant life throughout the trail. He is my little science guy. At this point he asked for his picture taken touching a cactus. He thought it was so cool to touch it and not get poked!
And that there is the visitor’s center from where we hiked into the canyon. Yup! It was a long way back up, but we did it.
The Rim Trail is the second trail on site. This trail is not quite a mile long, and is flat. It takes you along the rim of the canyon for a great view. You can also see lots of unique plants with plaques telling you what they would have been used for back in the day.
We loved spending the morning hiking at Walnut Canyon and learning about cliff dwellings. Incredible.