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Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

Page Type: Canyon

Location: Arizona, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 35.17230°N / 111.5086°W

Object Title: Walnut Canyon

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter


Page By: tarol

Created/Edited: Jun 11, 2007 / Jun 18, 2007

Object ID: 300585

Hits: 2740 

Page Score: 78.53%  - 10 Votes 

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Walnut Canyon is just one of several very-worthwhile-to-visit National Monuments in the Flagstaff area. The 3,600 acre monument is situated about 7 miles east of Flagstaff and it protects a portion of the 20-mile long, 400-foot deep canyon containing 700 year old Sinagua cliff ruins. There are two trails here that you can take. One is just a stroll along the top of the canyon and one takes you down a steep staircase into the canyon. Here you will can walk right up to and beside ruins that are remarkably well-preserved because they were protected from the elements under rock alcoves.
Walnut Tree in Walnut Canyon
Arizona Black Walnut

Walnut Canyon is also unique because of the variety of micro-habitats it contains. It is known as a biological "hot spot" for the abundance and variety of plant and animal life that live here. The canyon serves as a migratory corridor for animals traveling between the lower elevation pinyon-juniper woodland to the higher elevation pine forests.

Geology is also a fascinating thing to observe and study here. It took Walnut Creek 60 million years to carve the canyon out of sandstone and limestone. Today not much water flows through the canyon due to the impoundment of Walnut Creek as a source of water for Flagstaff residents. In rare floods the water from the creek joins the Little Colorado River en route to the Grand Canyon.

Walnut Canyon National Monument was established in 1915 specifically to preserve the ruins. Before its National Monument status it was part of the San Francisco Mountain Reserve (later the Coconino National Forest). It was named after the Arizona or Black Walnut Tree (Juglans major) that grows here. The walnuts were an important part of the Sinagua diet.

Getting There

Walnut Canyon
Ruins along the Island Trail

Walnut Canyon is an easy drive from Flagstaff. Head east on I-40 about 8 miles and take exit 204 (Walnut Canyon Road) then head south 3 miles to the monument visitor center.

Click here for a .pdf map of the monument.

Flagstaff Area Map

Link to a map of Arizona with all its National Parks and Monuments noted

Red Tape

Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush

The entrance Fee is $5 per person. America the Beautiful ($80), Access (free), and Senior Passes ($10) are accepted. Click here for more info on these passes!

Backcountry hiking is not allowed in order to protect fragile archaeological sites.

Please practice Leave No Trace ethics!


There is no campground at Walnut Canyon, but there are many nearby campgrounds in the surrounding National Forest. Check out this link!


Steep Staircase into Walnut Canyon
Steep Staircase along the Island Trail

The Rim Trail - starts at the visitor center, 0.7 miles, easy, good overall views of Walnut Canyon and you pass by two hill-top ruins.

The Island Trail - starts at the visitor center, 1 mile, strenuous, descends 200 feet along a steep staircase and then you have to come back out. You'll see 25 cliff dwellings along the trail.

External Links

Walnut Canyon National Monument Website

Link to current park newspaper

The Remarkable Cliff City of Walnut Canyon

Flagstaff area forecast from the National Weather Service

Explore the nearby San Francisco Volcanic Field


Ruin door and a yuccaIndian PaintbrushBeautiful Cactus FlowersWalnut Canyon Ruin Up CloseWalnut Tree in Walnut CanyonYucca FlowerPinyon Pine Needles
Walnut CanyonWalnut Canyon LandscapeWalnut Canyon LizardYucca Flower StalkBeautiful Indian PaintbrushGatekeepersYucca Fiber Curls
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