Navajo National Monument


Navajo National Monument in Arizona protects three remarkably preserved Anasazi ruins, two of which are open to the public. Betatakin, or "Ledge House," and Keet Seel, Navajo for "remains of square houses," were built in the mid-13th century and inhabited for only 50 years before they were abandoned. Betatakin housed 125 people, while Keet Seel is the largest Anasazi ruin in Arizona. A third ruin, Inscription House, has been closed since 1968 for its own preservation. Although the Navajo Reservation now surrounds the monument, the Navajo, who are thought to have migrated to the area in the 15th century from what is now Canada, are generally not believed to be descendants of the people who built these communal dwellings. Rather the Anasazi are thought to be the ancestors of modern Hopi and Pueblo tribes. All access to Navajo National Monument is limited to small, ranger-led groups, so visiting them takes a bit of advance planning. Backpacking permits for strenuous 17-mile round-trip hikes to Keet Seel are limited to 20 participants per day and may be scheduled between Memorial and Labor Days. A primitive campsite is located near the ruins, so you won't have to hike both ways in one day. In winter, only day hikes are permitted. A short, self-guided trail near the visitor center leads to an overlook with a view of Betatakin and the canyon that shelters it, while a spur trail offers an easy walk into the canyon's aspen and fir forest. The only access to Betatakin is via a steep, five-mile round-trip hike that takes three to five hours. Only 25 people at a time may accompany a ranger guide to the site, and space on the tour is available the day of the hike on a first-come, first-served basis. Get to the monument early to avoid longer lines for the hike. Rangers lead hikes to Betatakin daily between late May and early September, and on weekends in winter. Call the Navajo National Monument for specific information concerning schedules and other details.The visitor center offers three movies about the Betatakin Ruins and the Anasazi, and exhibits cover both the region's past and its present as part of the Navajo Reservation. Books and other relevant publications are available at the visitor center. Native crafts are for sale at a gift shop located next door. Navajo National Monument has a 31-site campground, with spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis year-round. Drinking water and toilets are available, but there are no hookups and space is limited to units under 25 feet long. Limited services are available at Black Mesa, nine miles south, and the nearest lodging is outside of Kayenta, Arizona, some 20 miles east. When arranging your tour, keep in mind that the Navajo Reservation is the only part of Arizona that observes Daylight Savings Time. Also remember, if you plan to hike, that you must pack in all water; any water along the trail is unsuitable for drinking. The high elevation, loose sand, and steep paths make hiking very strenuous, especially during the summer. Do not attempt either tour unless you are in good physical shape.


Tonalea, AZ 86044


36.68214800, -110.54332700
Visit Website
(928) 672-2700

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