Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hidden Treasures on Route 66

For years, my husband and I have driven through Flagstaff, Arizona on our way to rafting the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon.  Always leaving late (due to never learning that it takes days of preparation, not just one to get ready for a month long rafting trip) and rushing back for either work or other obligations, we breezed by a sign east of Flagstaff marked "Walnut Canyon National Monument." 

This August, however, when my daughter and I were looking for ways to break a long road trip with my two seven year old granddaughters into more manageable chunks of driving times, I remembered my friend Cheryl talking about a wonderful archeological site just east of Flagstaff, Arizona.  What a great place!  If you are anywhere near, you should take the time to stop.  A short (ten minutes) drive off the freeway brings you to a modest building which serves as the visitor's center and does not give you a clue from the outside about the delights you will find as you hike down into the precipitous canyon.  Not to worry though, you hike a grandmother-friendly trail (as long as you can manage many, many, many steps with rails which keep you from pitching into a death spiral.)

 I fully admit to keeping well away from the drop off edges of the trail, even when fairly flat!

 Across the canyon, you can see more cliff dwellings.  I suppose you can visit those as well if you are related to a mountain goat.

 We spent a lot of time at the signs because the twins like to read everything for themselves.
 You are allowed to go into what remains of the rooms, but not to step or put your hands on the walls.  I had to bite my tongue and remind myself I was no longer a school teacher or a park ranger as some visitors apparently could not read the signs.

Proud that my grandchildren followed all the rules.

 We were close to the gentleman in green who was really fascinated and took hundreds of photo.  I was much too busy watching my step to take a lot, but tended to focus on the incredible diversity of plant life in such an arid place.  No wonder these ancient folk chose to live in this canyon.

At the end of the trail, we had circled around an island of homes on a pinnacle of rock in the middle of the canyon and faced the daunting array of switched back staircases back up and out of the canyon, very glad indeed that it was a cool rainy Arizona day.
 A welcome bench about 2/3's of the way up.
Yes, that is the path from which we came over my left shoulder...barely visible!

Review:  Interesting, wonderful signage, fairly accessible for young and the no longer young with bad knees, breathtaking views, and very friendly and well informed rangers.  My granddaughters who visit all bathrooms gave them an A+. 

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