What was Walnut Canyon like in the past? We can only guess. During occupation of the cliff dwellings, the canyon walls themselves must have bustled with life. Imagine well-worn foot trails, cultivated croplands, firewood gathering and the smoke of cooking fires… these and other activities of daily life must have affected the canyon’s natural systems and processes.
More than 700 years later, the forested Walnut Canyon environment appears natural and unaltered. But human activities, both within and outside monument boundaries, still shape this landscape. During the last century, dam construction has greatly altered the flow of water through the canyon. Forests on adjacent lands have been logged repeatedly. Wildfire suppression, hunting, grazing, predator control, and increasing recreational use have also affected the natural systems and habitats throughout the region. Additional changes to the natural scene may be inevitable as residential development extends closer to the park boundary.
Did You Know?
Walnut Canyon National Monument's name came from the Arizona walnut, a tree once common in the canyon bottom. It is less so now, because dams constructed upstream have decreased water flow through the canyon.