“A great way to explore and imagine the cliff-dwelling Anasazi life.
— Nick Wilder
This trail provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Sinagua people who lived here a thousand years ago.
This trail is short, but strenuous with 240 stairs in its one-mile loop. You'll pass through beautiful terrain and 24 cliff dwellings. Hundreds more dwellings are visible all around the canyon. Imagine the difficult life that entailed getting water, food, and survival on these cliffs! This trail is highly recommended for everyone, including kids, who don't mind the stairs.
History & Background
Walnut Canyon is blessed with much natural beauty, but the highlights are the amazing ruins of the cliff dwelling Sinagua people. Populating the canyon from roughly 600-1250 AD, these people hunted and farmed the canyon and rim above. The cliff dwellings were only inhabited for about 100 years, and it is not understood why they were abandoned in about 1250. They remained undisturbed until the 1880s when theft and destruction destroyed much of cultural gems and many of the structures.
In 1915, the land was preserved as a national monument, and most of the cliff dwellings are not accessible, although a few trails take you right up to a few that you can investigate. The Island Loop Trail gives you the best look at this amazing history.