Southwest Vacation - Arizona Part 3, exploring Walnut Canyon and Flagstaff

After the Grand Canyon, we were fine with sticking closer to home.  I had found quite a few interesting stops in the general area, but we all agreed driving more than like 15 minutes was not going to happen.  The closest place was Walnut Canyon National Monument.

Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ panoramic videos Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ

An ancient Native American tribe in this area, the Sinagua people, built homes into the rocks at around 1100 to save themselves from all the complications of living near volcanic eruptions (nearby Sunset Crater had a series of eruptions in 1040).  They only stayed in these cliff dwellings for about 4 generations (100 years) and then moved on.  There were little constructed rooms all over the cliffs.  It was fascinating.  And beautiful.  We were happy to be able to interact with the scenery.

Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ

Tristan discovered his eye for photography and took tons of pictures with my old phone.  He's got a really great instinct for framing photos and pays attention to foreground/mid-ground/background all at once.  He did it all: from textured macro to wide panoramics.  Kid's got it!  I was super impressed with his shots!!  I plan to give him my old camera and teach him how to go "full manual mode".  I brought it with us on the trip, but never once got it out.  My phone has a larger sensor and thus takes better pictures, and it has a manual mode if I ever need it... and it's so much lighter... and I don't have to edit anything... and it takes panoramics... and better videos.

Tristan's Walnut Canyon Photos

We saw some of our first Arizona lizards and interesting wildflowers and cacti, which really excited Brennan.  The climb back up the stairs on the island trail was a little strenuous due to the altitude (and all the stairs we had to climb back up), but everyone made it alright with only the occasional whimper about burning legs and lungs from Brennan.  Lots of water breaks.  Glad we had snacks.

Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff AZ

We had some great pizza out, which energized most everyone.  In fact, when we got back the kids were packed full of energy, running around and yelling.  They eventually settled into the youtubes and relaxed.  The adults napped, and then afterwards most of us (Josh and Noah stayed behind) went for a long walk to search for a few geocaches in the neighborhood.  We had so much fun!!

Flagstaff, AZ Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ Flagstaff, AZ

Even though we hiked through some rocky terrain and cacti to find one of the caches and came out empty-handed, it had lead us to a park with an amazing view.  We likely wouldn't have found Buffalo Park had we not been looking for geocaches.  The walk back was a lot easier.

Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ

Once we got back, we played more jackbox games, watched some Netflix, and did laundry to get ready to leave the next morning.  All in all, we had an amazing time visiting the parks and spending quality time with our friends!!  Much of the relaxation we enjoyed would not have been possible if we had stayed in hotel rooms.

Flagstaff, AZ

Our next chapter: Arizona Part 4, the journey to Brian Head UT

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