San Francisco Peaks – west on I40 to Flagstaff Arizona
The wind continued to gust as I left Meteor Crater for Walnut Canyon National Monument.

The meandering Walnut Canyon
Where less than 25 miles away, I entered an entirely new environment. Actually, several environments. The opposite facing walls of the steep and narrow canyon slip from Ponderosa Pine to Juniper and back with every turn of the creek.

Juniper on left & ruins across canyon
No wonder the Sinagua (Spanish for without water) people settled here almost 900 years ago. They built dwellings for shelter in the natural recesses formed by millions of years of erosion as water flowed over the canyon’s rim carving away at the limestone walls.

Ponderosa along the Island Trail
Not only did the Sinagua take advantage of the abundance of plants and animals here they also farmed corn, beans and squash on top of the canyon.

Vandalized ruins
These ancient homes were occupied for little more than 100 years then remained disturbed only by the elements until the 1880s when souvenir hunters began to destroy accessible dwellings.

Partially preserved ruins
In 1915 Walnut Canyon was declared a national monument to preserve what had survived the centuries. This offered archaeologists opportunities to piece together the Sinagua’s story.

Over 400 ruins line the canyon walls and are scattered on the canyon rims. I could feel the spirit of people living a good life here, children laughing, women chattering while grinding corn, men telling stories as they repaired hunting tools.

Indian Paintbrush along trail
Trade items found in the ruins include turquoise from Santa Fe, New Mexico, seashell ornaments from the Gulf of Mexico and macaw feathers from Mexico.

Not only are there sheer drops along the trail but requires climbing 240 steps down and up 185 feet. The many original trails of the Sinagua running up and down the canyon walls are now overgrown and silent.

Looking up to the Visitor Center
Yet at one time the Sinagua people ranged from the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks northeast to the Little Colorado River and south to the Verde River valley.

Island Trail
While I visited, part of the Island Trail loop was closed for repairs from a major rock fall. Yet the one mile walk passed many ruins. An estimated 400 people may have lived in this canyon community. It is believed they were eventually assimilated into the Hopi culture.
By the time I got to Flagstaff yesterday afternoon the wind was blowing sideways 50+ miles per hour. I was tired and camped at Greer’s RV Park. They offered no bathrooms, showers or WIFI but the “guy” parked me where I might get a signal from the coffee shop on the other side of the fence. No such luck. Sure was glad to be parked between two huge RVs which reduced some of the buffeting. It rained last night. And this morning I woke up to this.

Had planned to visit Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument today. Instead I went shopping and found a KOA that offers WIFI to hunker down in for the day. I’ll see what tomorrow brings.