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Navajo National Monument
Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument

The Navajo National Monument is home to the largest pre-historic cliff structures in Arizona.

The monument was established for the conservation of the cliff dwellings, whose history dates back to the presence of the ancestral Pueblo tribe that lived in the Southwest hundreds of years ago.

Navajo National Monument, Hiking Trails, Park & Camping, Map, Arizona

The cliff dwellings are categorized into three types, with these including the Inscription House, Keet Seel, and Betatakin. Each of these non-adjacent dwellings protects an ancient dwelling, but only two of the three monuments are open to the public. The Inscription House remains closed to the general public owing to its fragile state.

Guided tours to the two monuments, Betatakin and Kiet Seel, are available for interested visitors. Betatakin, whose name translates to ‘ledge house’ in Navajo, boasts a collection of 135 cliff dwellings. These stunning architectural structures are located at the edge, just above a steep drop. Visitors often marvel at the sheer skill of the ancient workers who created the dwellings from nothing but bare stone.

A glimpse into the dwellings’ visitor center reveals diverse collections of artifacts. These range from unique pottery by the Anazasi to woven baskets, stored grain, and even corn ears. From the center, tour guides lead visitors to the actual site of the houses, which is a four-hour round trip. This hike is an arduous five-mile journey that includes a 700-foot descent and is recommended for experienced hikers only.

There is also the option of taking the half-mile walk to the canyon rim and marvel at the unobstructed views of the ancient dwellings. This works perfectly for families and visitors who may find the five-mile hike too strenuous.

Keet Seel, on the other hand, features 160 ancient cliff dwellings. Rising to a jaw-dropping 7000 feet, the dwellings are accessible using an 8.5-mile trail from the Visitor Center. Certainly not for the fainthearted, this hike rewards its visitors with fascinating views of the tranquil location. The trail is open between late May and early September, so visitors are advised to make an early reservation as only 20 hikers are allowed up this monument daily.

Nature lovers will also enjoy self-guided tours on the trails that crisscross the Navajo National Monument, including the Sandal, Canyon View, and Aspen Trails.

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Navajo National Monument's Visitor Center
Summer
Memorial Day - Labor Day: 8am - 5:30pm (Mountain Daylight Time)
Winter
Oct - May: 9am - 5pm (Mountain Standard Time)

Closed on Thanksgiving (November 26), Christmas (December 25), and New Year's Day (January 1)
The three (3) self-guided trails and campgrounds remain open even when the visitor center is closed

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