Walnut Canyon NM Headquarters Area Historic District

The Walnut Canyon Headquarters Area Historic District is part of Walnut Canyon National Monument, located southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. The District, which measures over 550 acres, is located on the north rim of Walnut Canyon. It is accessed by several major highways, and it serves as the primary visitor contact area, park administrative area, residential area, and maintenance area for the monument.

Part of Mission 66 development, the new approach road was designed with significant right-of-way on either side of the road in order to preserve the “natural and scenic beauty” and to secure it from “unsightly or unauthorized commercial development." Walnut Canyon NM Headquarters Area Historic District: Cultural Landscapes Inventory, NPS, 2011

Walnut Canyon NM Headquarters Area Historic District (NPS)
Walnut Canyon NM Headquarters Area Historic District


Walnut Canyon National Monument Headquarters Area Historic District landscape is comprised of multiple properties that represent various phases of administrative development and conservation of the Walnut Canyon area. The area was first administered by the Forest Service from 1904 to 1934. During this time a ranger station (Cliffs Ranger Station) was constructed and minimal improvements were made throughout the landscape. The Walnut Canyon National Monument was established in 1915, and the monument was transferred to the National Park Service shortly thereafter. Major changes occurred throughout the district from 1933 to 1942 as part of the New Deal improvements. 

The New Deal era represented a period of unprecedented intervention of the federal government in the national economy and welfare of its citizens. During this period the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was developed to create a workforce aimed at improving and developing infrastructure and conservation units across the United States. Structures built during this time reflect the National Park Service Rustic style of architecture, which emphasized the use of local materials to fit buildings into their setting and appear historic.

Cliff dwelling along Island Trail, 2005 (NPS)
Cliff dwelling along Island Trail, 2005


The NPS continued to alter the landscape during the Mission 66 era, which was a post‑World War II effort initiated in response to a dramatic increase in the number of road‑travelers and visitors to national parks. The specific goal of this program was to substantially improve the parks by 1966, hence its name Mission 66. The period marks the largest multi‑year construction event in NPS history. Although the official extent of the program was 1956‑1966, Mission 66 era resources in the Headquarters Area fall within the 1956‑1967 timeframe. These structures reflect a modern style of architecture that was meant to minimally invade the landscape.

This layering of features makes the Walnut Canyon Headquarters Area significant as an excellent example of a project completed during early conservation efforts in the United States; most notably, during the New Deal era of the 1930s‑1940s and the Mission 66 era of the 1950s‑1960s. Additionally, the property also contains early Forest Service features that were important to the early development of the area prior to the establishment of the monument.

Quick Facts

  • Cultural Landscape Type: Designed
  • National Register Significance Level: State
  • National Register Significance Criteria: A,C
  • Period of Significance: 1904-1967

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Last updated: May 20, 2019