Cliff Dwellings in Walnut Canyon National Monument

December 14, 2010

Photographer: Phil Lachman
Summary Author: Phil Lachman; Stu Witmer; Jim Foster

Walnut Canyon National Monument is located in northern Arizona, about 8 mi (13 km) southeast of Flagstaff. It's been protected since 1904, originally as part of the San Francisco Mountain Reserve (later the Coconino National Forest). The canyon is composed largely of Kaibab Limestone and Coconino Sandstone -- the canyon wall is approximately 350 ft (107 m) high. For visitors, a loop trail descends into the canyon, passing two dozen cliff dwelling rooms. These were constructed between the years 1100 to 1250 by the Sinagua (Spanish for "without water"), a pre-Columbian culture that lived near Walnut Canyon. The canyon is nearly 7,000 ft (about 2,100 m) above sea level and receives considerable snowfall. The snowmelt along with water supplied by occasional rains was probably enough to sustain the life of the Sinagua community for hundreds of years. It's surmised that the lack of dependable water, because of climatic fluctuations, was a primary reason why the Sinaguas abandoned their cliff-side dwellings. Photo taken on April 16, 2010.

Photo details: Camera Maker: FUJIFILM; Camera Model: FinePix S7000; Focal Length: 46.8mm; Aperture: f/4.0; Exposure Time: 0.0071 s (1/140); ISO equiv: 200; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.