Arizona’s Historical Hikes: 5 National Monuments

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Arizona has a slew of national monuments. Each one is interesting, but not all of them are particularly good as hiking spots. This post will outline Arizona’s historical hikes: 5 national monuments. I’ll give you the rundown on these destinations and my opinion about the hiking available there.

#1 Wupatki

Wupatki National Monument has archeological pueblo and pit house sites. Drive around to the different parking areas where you can get out of your car and walk a short distance to view the ruins. The desert views can be nice especially if there is a storm in the distance. This is not a hiking destination but more of a pleasant afternoon among the remnants of the past.

#2 Sunset Crater Volcano

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is a neighbor of Wupatki. It does have a few hikes that allow you a glimpse at some unique lava formations. Try out the Lava Flow Trail as an introduction. This is an easy 1-mile loop with interpretive signs and a great up-close view of the volcano. Unfortunately, there are no trails to the top of the crater.

If you’d like to see some more dramatic lava beds, hike the 2-mile Lava’s Edge Trail. This allows you a close look at the A’a basaltic lava.

My favorite hike was the Lenox Crater Trail a 1.6-mile hike with a little elevation. It passes up and around an adjacent crater with a great view of the San Francisco peaks, the Sunset volcano, and the lava beds.

For a map of Sunset Crater hiking trails, click here.

#3 Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon National Monument is my favorite out of the five because it is beautiful hiking along with a historic site. The Sinagua people left behind 25 cliff dwelling rooms. These are visible on the Island Trail. This 1-mile moderate loop gives hikers a great view down into the canyon as you walk on a bluff littered with dwellings.

For a map of Walnut Canyon hiking trails, click here.

#4 Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle National Monument is most definitely not a hiking destination. It’s a neat monument though, showcasing some stunning pueblo cliff dwellings left behind by the Sinagua culture. Don’t expect to get close though. These are to be enjoyed from a distance. As a side note, there are some really lovely sycamore trees along the park trail. This is not a hiking destination but more of a pleasant afternoon among the remnants of the past.

For a map, click here.

#5 Tuzigoot

Tuzigoot National Monument has archeological value but it’s not a place for hiking. Take the hilltop park trail loop around the Sinagua pueblo ruins to appreciate them. This is not a hiking destination but more of a pleasant afternoon among the remnants of the past.

For a map, click here.

All these monuments are worth a visit. The best for the hiking-minded are Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater.

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