We arrived at the monument just in time to take the tour of Winsor Castle. Ranger Julie was a great guide…she taught us a lot about the history of the area, but kept it fun and interesting, even for my teen. The highlight was the cool room in the basement with the spring running through it and the remnants of the cheese-making operation.
The story of how this area, which was once a rich grassland, gave way to high desert because of over-farming is a sobering tale…and a cautionary one of what could happen if we don’t take better care of the environment.
After the tour, we hiked the short Ridge trail which starts just to the west of the fort. It’s a short loop, a little over half a mile, that climbs the short ridge behind the fort on a series of long switchbacks. The elevation gain is 130 feet, but it feels steeper in the hot desert sun. It is in the high desert though, so the base is already around 5000 feet.
The Kaibab Paiute Reservation was created in 1907 and the land surrounding the monument is part of the Reservation. At a few points on the trail, we ran into fencing and signs warning off trespassers from Paiute land.
The trail then descends down the other side to arrive at the fort, corrals, garden, and orchard. We visited the oxen and horses in the corral and stopped in the gift shop.
Location: 406 N Pipe Spring Rd, Fredonia, AZ 86022
Designation: National Park
Date designation declared: 5/31/1923
Date of my visit: 4/14/2017