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Arizona Camping at the Walnut Canyon National Monument
Walnut Canyon National Park offers a rare glimpse into the lives of past inhabitants, who lived in the canyon more than 700 years ago. With their cliff dwelling homes built into the canyon walls, you can glimpse into a past way of life, one centered on a rare desert commodity, water. Water, in an otherwise very dry area, was vital to the survival of early inhabitants, and it continues to aid in the survival of plants and animals today. With its long history of human inhabitants and its long lasting testament to their time there, Walnut Canyon National Monument is an excellent Arizona camping destination.
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Prior to it being declared a National Monument, the Canyon was subjected to pillaging and destruction, prompting Woodrow Wilson to name it as Walnut Creek National Monument in 1915, thus protecting the rich human history and relics of the past. The elevation of the Monument promotes four seasons, rather than a dry, warm desert climate. Snow is very common in winter. Summers tend to be very hot and thunderstorms are frequent. Spring and fall are more temperate, but strong winds around the canyon are very common in spring. The weather is a bit unpredictable, so it is best to come prepared for any conditions. The fee to enter the park is $5, which is good for a seven day pass. An annual pass costs $25. The park is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Also, just to note, Arizona does not follow Daylight Savings Time and has a constant time year round.
The Island Trail is an excellent one mile trail that takes about an hour to complete. The trail brings you back in time to the world of the people know as “Sinagua.” You’ll walk right by 25 cave dwellings, with even more visible across the canyon. The trail also offers beautiful scenery and a wide variety of plant life and even some wild life. To protect the cave dwellings and the delicate ecosystem of the area, it is important to stay on the established trail. Another trail worth seeing is the Rim Trail, which runs along the top of the canyon and through a ponderosa forest. There is a pueblo and pithouse set back from the rim, and this is also the area where the Sinagua people grew their crops. This is an easy trail and takes around 30 minutes to do. Again, it is important to keep to the established trail. There isn’t an opportunity for back-country hiking at this park.
With its rich human history, unique cliff dwellings, and beautiful scenery, Walnut Canyon National Monument makes for an excellent Arizona camping stop.
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