The Grand Canyon Loop: day trip from Williams
Several day trips starting in Williams are suggested by John Holtz, Innkeeper of the Red Garter. We took his suggestions, and are glad we did! This is one of his suggested trips. Starting in Williams take I-40 east 45 miles to Walnut Canyon National Monument Built by Pueblo Indians about 800 years ago, this first stop consists of pre-historic cliff dwellings in shallow caves under limestone ledges. This hike is about a mile around, and it is amazing to think that all the materials such as stone, cement, and water have been carried in by backpack by the National Park Service, to say nothing of the Pueblo Indians themselves!
Rooms in cliff dwellings were made by blocking off the fronts of the long, shallow ledges, and dividing them into rooms.
Back on I-40 head west, (back toward Flagstaff) about 8 miles. Follow the signs for SR 89 north towards Page and about 12 miles north of Flagstaff, turn right on the paved Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop Road. Two miles further and you will reach Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, a 1,000-foot volcanic cinder cone formed about 900 years ago with lava flows and sea of black cinder sand where astronauts trained for the first trip to the moon.
This river of lava looks like it just cooled. Not much is growing here after all these years.
"Wupatki National Monument"
Continuing along the Loop road about 12 miles brings you to Wupatki National Monument and the incredible ruins of masonry pueblos built by Sinagua and Anasazi Indian farmers between A.D. 100 and 1225. The backdrop to the ruins is probably the best view you can find of the Painted Desert.
This is a distant view of the Painted Desert which, even at this distance, is awesome!
"Cameron Trading Post"
Continue on the Loop road until it rejoins US 89 and head towards Cameron about 20 miles to the north. One half-mile past the junction with SR 64 (East Rim Drive) is the Cameron Trading Post. Although extensively remodeled a few years ago, Cameron is an old Trading Post with an extensive rug and pot collection. There is also a gift shop with reasonable prices. You can get a pretty good meal here, also.
Follow the huge signs at Cameron to SR 64 and the east entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park, about 25 miles. Along the way you check out the Little Colorado River. It's another twenty-five miles to Grand Canyon Village for sunset but along the way you can enjoy the many overlooks on the lightly traveled east rim of the Canyon. From the Village it is 56 miles back to Williams. The whole trip will take from 6 to 8 hours, and is very enjoyable. If you can do this in September, the weather is perfect, and the crowds small.