Walnut Canyon has a generic name that may fail to captivate the average adventurer to visit the area. Despite this, Walnut Canyon National Monument is one of Arizona's finest collections of Native American dwellings. Additionally, while there is not a real sense of solitude at this small park, the crowds are surprisingly low for how remarkable of an area it is - it is also right off of Interstate 40 just minutes from downtown Flagstaff!
Descendants of the Hopi people inhabited this area about 800 years ago, and they farmed on the surface of the plateau that the narrow Walnut Canyon cuts through. Approximately 400 feet below the rim the Walnut Creek provided a consistent supply of fresh water. In the walls of the canyon are the remnants of the homes of these Native Americans. Some are viewable on the far side of the canyon, while several others can be viewed from the Island Trail. The ruins on this trail are in relatively great shape, and unlike other, perhaps more well-known sites in Arizona such as Montezuma Castle, visitors may explore the inside of these old homes up close and personally.
Walnut Canyon is very worth the visit if one is in the Flagstaff area. Still, it is a small monument and most people can spend an hour or two visiting and experience all of the interpretive trails and the visitor center, which is extremely informative. There is no camping or lodging available here, although there is some day use RV and trailer parking available. Additionally, pets are strictly prohibited from all trails in the monument; leashed pets are allowed near the parking area.