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Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

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Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

When we leave Homolovi SP in the morning to head to the GC, we are thinking of possibly visiting one of the national monuments in the area. Of the three, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki, which would be the best use of our time if we want an hour or so visit?

I'd prefer one that has a nice spot for an early morning (6:30ish) hike/walk rather than a scenic drive.

OR...are we better off just going straight to the GC? We will camp in Mather that night so we have all day.

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Mather Campground
Mather Campground
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Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
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Sedona, AZ
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1. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

Wupatki Ruins and Sunset Crater are both on the same loop off of 89. You would visit both as a natural route. You’ll need about 3 hours to do the detour if you’re including a one hour walk. Walking at the main Pueblo or on the volcano are both great hikes.

Walnut Canyon is more compact and needs about an hour for the climb down to the Ruins loop and then back up again.

I’d choose Wupatki/Sunset Crater.

Edited: 10:38 pm, June 10, 2018
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Pueblo
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2. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

Wupatki Pueblo if time is limited, look for the "blowhole".

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Pueblo
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3. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

I really like Wuptaki but if you only have an hour it isn't enough time to do it. Look at a map so this makes more sense. You need to take a loop road coming from either the south or northern entrances. The northern entrance is closer to the main ruins but if you aren't doing Sunset Crater you either need to continue on the loop road OR backtrack. The ruins are not right at the entrance to the loop road. It will take you much longer than an hour in either case. A drive by of Sunset Crater will still let you see it since it is something you can see from the road.

In an hour, you can do the Island Trail at Walnut Canyon as well as view the movie in the visitors center. In case you haven't done research yet, these are cliff dwellings and Wuptaki are pueblo ruins on the ground. Walnut Canyon would be a more time efficient stop. There is also a small set of ruins on the ground on the opposite side of the parking lot.

We have a lot of guests to our home in Scottsdale. Almost everyone requests a trip to northern Arizona. We do a quick tour and find that everyone preferred Walnut Canyon when we have the time to do both. If we are short on time, like it sounds you might be with only an hour, we do Walnut Canyon. It is far more interesting than Montezuma's Castle in case you are considering that as a substitute.

I am considering the time allotment of an hour as the full time off your route (89) NOT the time only at the monument. Walnut Canyon is only a few minutes off of 40/89. Wuptaki National Monument consists of several different sites of ruins as part of the national monument. Wuptaki is the largest and what you want to see if you are on a time restraint. . Wuptaki ruins are the furtherest from 89. If you are talking about an hour JUST at the ruins or crater and not the amount of time that it will take you off your planned drive - all can be done in an hour, As Red Rox says you need about 3 hours to do the full detour.

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Scottsdale
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4. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

My preference is Wupatki, but if you really only want to spend an hour, Walnut Canyon is probably the only choice.

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5. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

Thanks everyone! I did know what each park was about before asking, but sometimes it is hard to tell from a map what will take a lot of time getting into and out of plus actual looking around time.

I meant an hour on a trail at the park, but I don't want a lot of driving time involved to get there. It sounds like Walnut Canyon might work best. We will be seeing some Pueblo ruins and Capulin Volcano earlier in our trip so Walnut Canyon will be something different.

Thanks again for your help!

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Pueblo
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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6. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

If your "6:30-ish" comment is correct [you're leaving Homolovi before 4:30, breaking camp in the dark, driving over 2 hours to Flag/Sunset Crater/???] you won't be doing Walnut Canyon. They don't open the doors until 9AM.

I'll offer the Lenox Crater Trail at Sunset Crater. Off the loop road about 2 miles beyond the Visitor Center [which won't be open then either, but the trails open at sunrise]. There is a connector trail along the lava field from the big parking lot, and a smaller parking pulloff across the road from the trailhead. The whole trail loop is about 2-1/2 miles. Takes us about an hour. Views from the summit of Lenox are superb -- SanFrancisco Peaks to the west, O'Leary Peak to the north, and the best view of Sunset Crater itself as you walk down the "back side" of Lenox.

If you don't want to do the entire road loop through Wupatki [lovely views, but it will take another 45 minutes at speed limit], simply exit back the way you came in and continue north on Rt89 to GC.

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7. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

I was figuring on a 5am wakeup, out by 6am...off to somewhere 6:30/7ish before the Grand Canyon. If Walnut Canyon doesn't let you in until 9, then that is definitely out.

Would we be better off just getting to the Grand Canyon early? I am showing 2hrs 15 min to Desert View Watchtower. We're not hiking down into the canyon, but we could do a trail maybe 45 min down and then turn around if there is a good place to do that anywhere along the way to Mather? We'll be stopping at all the viewpoints if we can get a parking spot. We just need enough time to get the tent set up and grab a bite to eat for supper before we to find a sunset viewing spot.

Edited: 2:55 pm, June 11, 2018
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Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower
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Mather Campground
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8. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

IMO you can never have enough time at the Grand Canyon. You're planning to access the park via the East Gates--that's good. You should have no problems finding parking at any of the viewpoints along Desert View Drive--even if it's really busy, the spots turn over quickly. Start with the Desert View Watchtower, climb the stairs to the top and you'll be at the highest overlook on the South Rim with views of the Colorado making a big bend to the west. Fantastic views of the canyon to the west and Painted Desert to the east. My other favourite viewpoints are Navajo, Lipan, and Grandview, where the very steep Grandview Trail begins. It's about 20 miles or so from the East Gates to the Village, and plan on that taking a couple of hours or more if you stop at all the viewpoints.

For hiking, you can go down Grandview a ways before turning around. Or, what I would recommend: once you're in the Village or at Mather and have parked your car, take the orange shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead and go down the SK for about 3/4 mile to Ooh Aah Point. Then turn around. The views are fantastic. Oh, if you're coming from Mather, you have to grab the blue shuttle to the Visitor Centre first, then the orange to the trailhead.

Sunset is great just about everywhere, but I like going east from Verkamp's and find a secluded spot, find a comfortable rock and enjoy.

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Sedona, AZ
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9. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

Agreeing. Head straight to the Grand Canyon National Park.

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10. Re: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, or Wupatki?

Thank you for the tips and recommendations. I will check those out! I haven't been to the Grand Canyon in 20-some years and that was to the north rim. I'm excited to see if I like it better this time around....being older and wiser and all. Ha! Thanks again!

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