National Parks

Navajo National Monument

Built around 1250 AD by the Pueblos, Navajo National Monument is a delight for geologists, anthropologists, and adventurers alike. While the Monument itself is located in Arizona, the area extends into Utah's Monument Valley, the path to which is a magnificent site as seen from the Monument.

While Navajo National Monument is every bit the scenic natural playground that all national parks are, few other places have preserved a virtually untouched culture for 700 years. You can hike through this area and take photographs that are sure to wow all who see them. Additionally though, you can see actual relics from the past that you won’t find elsewhere. From Pueblo-built cliff dwellings (called the Tsegi Phase villages), to the baskets and rugs woven by the more recent Navajo, this National Monument provides a portal through which ancient life is revealed.

Hiking through Navajo National Monument, you can see the little windowed rooms in which past cultures lived while they farmed beans and corn and hunted for game. The masonry walls will have you marveling out how advanced this people was. Some walls even display impressive “rock art”. Or, see some pottery in the Native style, in Keet Seel. For those interested in history and culture, be sure to purchase a book from the gift store on the peoples of this area. Finally, at this monument, exercise your body AND cultural sensitivity– like the Amish, but for different reasons, some Native Americans do not wish to be photographed.

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, there are several rims on which you can venture independently. Or, go on a guided tour. You can access any of three trails: Aspen, Canyon View, or Sandal. All provide an elevation in heart rate as well as in actual locale. The 3-5 mile Betakin tours are free and led by NPS park rangers. Tours take anywhere from three to five hours. These are for the hale and hearty! If you do a tour of Keet Seel you can stay the night if you like, at the campground. Don’t like camping? Check out some indoor alternatives here. Be sure to plan ahead as reservations are required for some activities. Remember too, that you are in the famous “four corners” region of the U.S., where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado intersect.

Photos from Navajo National Monument