Long before we knew what the weather might be, BJ made reservations at a beautiful place in Flagstaff. For the skiers, it wasn't good news since almost all the snow was gone, but for us, the weather was perfect!
Since we were staying on Old Walnut Canyon Road, it seemed appropriate to see if the road actually went to Walnut Canyon. It quickly turned to gravel and about a mile later turned to a badly rutted forest road. It would have been impassable to us if it was muddy or if the snow was too deep, but with the mud frozen, we could navigate the ruts and make progress towards our goal. We stopped where the Arizona Trail crossed the road
and checked out the neighborhood. It was quite clear that we weren't the only ones that had been by that morning! I'm pretty sure that track wasn't made by a house cat!
Just before we got to the Walnut Canyon Visitor Center, we intercepted the asphalt road that most people used to access the National Monument. (But we got four caches on our way, including one that required tree climbing...)
The Island Trail is the highlight of the monument, leading down into the canyon and then looping around an "island" with ruins on all sides.
The "trail" wasn't slippery since it was dry. The sign said there were 240 steps down.
If you looked close, you could pick out ruins on the opposite wall of the canyon
as well as ruins right next to the asphalt path. I wasn't too excited about the stairs and asphalt path, but given the number of visitors every year, I can understand they had to do something to control erosion.
I think I enjoyed the old juniper trees as much as I did the restored structures.
BJ and I agreed that the stairs seemed more work than if we're been climbing an incline, but it didn't take long to top out at the Visitor Center. I'm glad we went, and it certainly provides an easily accessed introduction to 1000 year old history, but it doesn't hold a candle in any manner to wandering around the Cedar Mesa area in SE Utah.
Up on the rim were widely scattered juniper and pinion pine. There is no camping in the Monument, but there is free forest boondocking just outside the fence. Easily accessible, and reasonably close to town. This area goes to the top of my short list of places to stay in the Flagstaff area.