Walnut Canyon National Monument North near Flagstaff, Arizona

by Will

RV Campsite 2 North of Walnut Canyon National Monument

RV Campsite 2 North of Walnut Canyon National Monument

This has been a great campsite with terrific access to Walnut Canyon National Monument and the Arizona Trail, which is just north and west of the monument and accessible from FR 303 (East Old Walnut Canyon Road). From this campsite it’s also an easy bike ride to East Flagstaff along FR 303. West along FR 303 and past the trailhead for the Arizona Trail, are more trails in Peaceful Valley Memorial Park on Campbell Mesa. There is certainly plenty to do in this area.

Seeing the monument was well worth the $5.00 cost. Walnut Canyon is beautiful. There are several cliff dwellings on both sides of the canyon. This must have been a spectacular place to live! Some sites are near the bottom of the canyon and close to the once flowing river (it was dammed to create Lake Mary and provide water for Flagstaff) – but even back then the river did not flow year round so the natives had to store water for the dry times. These lower dwellings weren’t visible from the trail as the trail doesn’t go all the way down into the canyon. There are very informative signs describing the ruins and the Sinagua people that once lived here. There are also great descriptions of the plant life as you walk the trail.

RV Campsite 1 GPS Coordinates: N 35 10.933’ W 111 29.758’

RV Campsite 2 GPS Coordinates: N 35 10.708’ W 111 29.361’

Elevation: 6600 feet

Campsite Directions: From Flagstaff take I-40 east and watch for the Walnut Canyon National Monument exit (exit 204 for Walnut Canyon Road). Drive south on Walnut Canyon Road for 2 1/2 miles and turn left (east) onto FR 303 (Cosnino Road). If you reach the monument you've gone too far.

For Campsite 1: Take FR 303 east for about 1/2 mile and you'll reach the top of the hill where a primitive forest road begins on your left. Take this road north about 1/10 of a mile to the campsite on the left. You'll also see a campsite on your left closer to the intersection with FR 303. This one is more suitable for larger RVs.

For Campsite 2: Take FR 303 east for about 1 mile then turn right (south) onto FR 9172P. There may not be a sign; however the road is near the bottom of the hill. Take the road a very short ways to an open area on your right with a couple juniper trees, and behind them a rock circle for a fire pit. This is the campsite.

More Campsites: This is a popular area for camping and there are several more good campsites suitable for RVs off of Forest Road 303 east of Walnut Canyon Road. There is also camping east of the monument. Click here to see my article about RV camping east of Walnut Canyon National Monument.

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Walnut Canyon National Monument Video Slideshow

Walnut Canyon National Monument RV Camping Journal

September 6th, 2011 - Campsite 2

This campsite is very open with juniper and pinyon pine trees spread out on the grassy hills. It’s a great spot for solar panels. This is the closest I’ve camped to Flagstaff so far. It feels a bit like the Verde Valley here. The vegetation is mostly small shrubs, juniper trees, and pinyon pines with a few tall ponderosa pines here and there. There are more ponderosa pines toward the canyon. It is much more open here than in the tall pine forest and I can see the horizon once again.

Peacefulness: I can hear a train not too far off. Gunshots can be heard on occasion. This site is very close to FR 303, which gets a fair amount of traffic – so it’s not super private or quiet. I see the occasional car, or person walking their dog along this road (FR 9172P).

Cell Signal: My Verizon cell phone signal is good. Verizon mobile broadband internet hasn’t been as fast as would be expected. Sometimes all I can get is National Access, unless I use the external antenna, then it is fairly fast 3G.

Weather: Coming down from 8000 feet to 6600 feet, it feels noticeably warmer here; perhaps 10 degrees warmer. It’s a bit too hot at times with highs in the uppers 80s. Nighttime lows are great as it only drops to about 50. I’ve had highs in the 80s every day, but

it looks like it may start to cool down to the 70s soon. All I had for rain was a couple sprinkles, until yesterday and last night when we got some good downpours. There are several puddles on the road now. I’ve seen many clouds and storms in the days past, but no substantial rain fell here until now.

Insects: There are quite a number of yellow jackets here. It’s been very dry until yesterday and they seemed to be mighty thirsty. Any water thrown outside or used to wash up they would quickly find. The yellow jackets are quite curious and would check me out at times; a few times they’ve landed on me – no stings thankfully! Other than yellow jackets, I’ve had no insect problems.

Cows: I can hear cows to the south of me. Thankfully they are on the other side of the fence and not near my camper.

Recreation: I hiked the Arizona Trail south from FR 303 to an overlook of Walnut Canyon, just inside the monument. The view wasn’t as great as that from the main entrance to the monument. However, it was a good hike through ponderosa pine forest.

I took a couple hikes to Walnut Canyon by first biking south on FR 9172P. I found some excellent views of the canyon here. This road is rough and suitable for high clearance vehicles only.

RV Campsite Rating: 8 out of 10. It’s a super site because there is plenty to do here, but the campsite itself isn’t so peaceful as it's so close to FR 303, I-40, and Flagstaff.

October 3rd, 2012 - Campsite 1

This is a very popular area, especially during the fall pinyon pine nut harvest. At this time of year everyone is scouring the forest for these delicious nuts. Many were making a profit by gathering the nuts and selling them to grocery stores. I had several people pass by my campsite collecting nuts; even one guy who was only a few feet from my camper. I told him to get the heck out of here, as politely as possible of course! It’s hard to get any privacy here during the pine nut harvest. Several were camped here solely to collect pine nuts. The rangers at the monument even had to put up several signs warning the public that no pinyon pine nut harvesting is allowed in the monument.

I decided to join in on the "fun" and collected a cereal bowl full of these nuts, which took a couple hours. It’s not easy to amass a large volume as the nuts are so small and they take time to collect.

I did meet one other camper who wasn’t there to collect pine nuts; she was actually there to see the monument as I was.

Peacefulness: This campsite is set back from FR 303, which makes it a bit more peaceful. I-40 and a very busy train track lies to the north, which can get noisy at times. Juniper trees and pinyon pines add some shade and privacy.

RV Solar: The trees are short here and I get plenty of sun for solar charging.

Weather: Highs had been in the mid to upper 70s almost every day. Lows were in the 40s and dropped down into the high 30s early last week. I had a few days with highs in the low 80s when I first arrived. I had thunderstorms one day which produced a few short showers. Otherwise, it’s been mostly sunny. It’s a bit breezy during the day and calm in the evenings.

Insects: A few gnats, some paper wasps, a few flies, but no problems.

Wildlife: Cottontail rabbits, mice under my patio boards (they like to shelter under there!), many birds including ravens, bluebirds, robins, hawks, eagles, and humming birds. I’ve also seen short horned lizards, other lizards, and a few elk.

Cell Signal: Excellent Verizon service here. Mobile broadband internet is very fast and I have a strong cell phone signal.

Recreation: The Arizona Trail goes right by here. Just take a short hike northwest and you’ll run right into it. The paved paths in the monument are pretty short. However, cross county hiking is easy and a good way to explore the monument outside of the developed areas. FR 303 can be taken north to access the forest south of the Cinder Hills OHV area. I took a bike ride north to O’ Neill Crater, then hiked to the top. The view was great.

RV Campsite Rating: 7 out of 10. It’s a great campsite - just don’t camp during the pinyon pine nut harvest if you want any privacy.

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