By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/20/2020
Occurred: 7/15/2017
Topics/Keywords: #Travel #USA #Arizona #WalnutCanyonNationalMonument Page Views: 1042
All the photos from my hike around Walnut Canyon's 'island'.

I first visited Walnut Canyon in 1961, when I was 10. This what it looked like 56 years later.

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Walnut Canyon was proclaimed a national monument on November 30, 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson to preserve the ancient cliff dwellings, as local tourists frequently came by on a weekend with dynamite, the better to facilitate plundering the ruins for relics. It was transferred from the USDA Forest Service to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the national monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. At Walnut Canyon, there are trails for tourists to get a close view of the dwellings.


Sinagua is Spanish for "without water", an acknowledgement that the Sinagua people were able to live in such a dry region. By living in such a region the Sinagua became experts at conserving water and dealing with droughts.

The Sinagua were also believed to have been active traders that stretched to the Gulf of Mexico and even as far as Central America. The 'island' shown below is one of the primary concentrations of dwellings, and the main one visited by tourists.

From the 'Island', one can make out other cliff dwellings on the far wall.

Wildflowers festoon the canyon, now as then.

The natural limestone overhangs made perfect, ready-made shelter from the elements. The Sinagua simply added walls for additional protection and privacy.

These walls would still be in living condition if tourists in the early 1900s hadn't started dynamiting them to make it easier to find and loot artifacts.