Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings

While in Arizona, we visited the Walnut Canyon National Monument and its cliff dwellings. This was a special treat on our way to Grand Canyon.

From the visitor center, we walked down 240 steps (185 feet) from the rim to get to the trail of cliff dwellings that we were allowed to look at. The trail we were on took us by 25 of the cliff dwelling rooms. However, from the trail you could look around the canyon and see many more pockets of dwellings all throughout the cliff areas, more than 300 rooms.

Walnut Canyon

Cliff Dwellings
These dwellings were built under overhanging cliffs. Walnut Canyon's only permanent inhabitants built these more than 800 years ago. Inside the canyon and throughout the forests the Sinagua people made this their homeland for a little more than 100 years. They lived here by farming, hunting deer and small game, gathering useful plants, and trading. It is not clear why the people decided to move on, but it is generally believed that they moved to new villages and assimilated with the Hopi culture.
Checking out part of a room (minus some walls)

Walking around the ridge of the trail was a bit nerve-racking for me, as I held the hand of my four year old. I imagine these people were very sure-footed and comfortable with heights, as well as very resourceful. The rooms they built were not just for sleeping and living, but for storage as well. They had to make large pots to store water for the drier seasons. They also had to make their farmlands on the rims.

The black on the walls is from the fires they would burn in these rooms.

A renovated wall, but it gives you an idea of what these rooms were like.

The door is below, and the hole above is the venting system for their fires.

It is amazing to think of people's resourcefulness. This was a good lesson for the boys, to see how different people live and how creative we can be with what we have available to us. Perhaps they may not live on the sides of cliffs, but it is important to be wise with what they have available to them.
Getting their Junior Ranger badges

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