Viewing the cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument requires a 0.9-mile walk on the Island Trail and a climb of 185 feet up 240 steps at an elevation of just less than 6,700 feet. The trail is a nice hourlong walk for visitors who are reasonably fit.
The 0.7-mile Rim Trail is an easier walk that takes about 30 minutes.
None of the pictographs and petroglyphs in Walnut Canyon are visible from the monument's trails.
The 24 cliff dwellings were built in the limestone cliffs from 1125 to 1250 A.D. The Sinagua native people moved away to new villages after 1250 and it's believed they assimilated into the Hopi culture. The Hopi called them Hisatsinom or "the people of long ago," according to the National Park Service.
Pot hunters removed many relics from Walnut Canyon starting in the late 1800s. The Forest Service built a ranger cabin in 1904 to protect Walnut Canyon. It was not protected as a national monument until 1915.
There are close to 500 archeological sites within Walnut Canyon, which runs for about 10 miles. Not all of canyon is within the national monument boundaries.
A study from a decade ago found 2,000 walnut trees at the bottom of the 400-foot canyon.
Park admission is $15 per person for visitors 16 and older or $45 for 4 visitors for an entire year that also allows free entrance into Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.
The park is 7.5 miles east of Flagstaff at Exit 204 on Interstate 40 and it's 3 miles south to the visitor center.
Elevation: 6,690 feet.
Annual visitation: 212,328
Take a side trip to nearby Sunset Crater National Monument: