Flagstaff, Arizona

Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument Reopens

Sunday, October 19 2008 19:27   Trails
One of the most popular trails in the West, Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument just outside Flagstaff, Arizona, has reopened after being closed since December 2007 due to rock slides.

Two separate rock falls occurred at Walnut Canyon National Monument, depositing a 49-ton boulder, several other large rocks, and 100 additional tons of debris on the primary trail, causing extensive damage. The rock falls completely blocked and damaged the trail, stairs, handrails, and a bench.

"Re-opening the trail has been the park's top priority," said Superintendent Diane Chung at ceremonies held Sept. 28, 2008. "We appreciate the public's support and patience during this project, allowing us to protect park resources and provide visitor access to Flagstaff's local national monuments. We hope everyone will join us to visit the park and the rehabilitated Island Trail."  Part of the loop will remain closed as crews continue to make repairs this fall.

Walnut Canyon National Monument is a very unique place, offering the public a glimpse into what Native American life was like in the region 700 years ago. There are two trails, Island Trail and the Rim Trail, where visitors to the monument can see the remains of cliff dwellings, peer into those early homes built deep within the canyon walls.

The Island Trail leads visitors back in time, and welcomes them into the world of the people archeologists call Sinagua. Those walking the trail will see 25 cliff dwelling rooms; more rooms are visible across the canyon.

The trail descends 185 feet into the canyon. A strenuous .nine-mile round trip, it is one of the best ways to experience the park. Rangers do urge caution, however, since climbing the 240 steps back up can tax heart and lungs. The elevation, 6,690 feet, also can be an issue, and visitors are urged to bring drinking water with them. Entry to the Island Trail closes 1 hour before the monument closes.

The Rim Trail, roughly seven miles long, offers an easy overview of the canyon. The Rim Trail closes 30 minutes before the visitor center.

For directions, or more information, visit the park website at
www.nps.gov/waca and park hours are 8 a.m. to 5p.m.  The Walnut Canyon National Monument Visitor Center can be reached at (928) 526-3367.


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