Sunday, April 19, 2015


Suzy, our Garmin GPS, wanted to lead me astray, but I’d already done some homework on the location of the Navajo National Monument. I knew that I needed to turn on Arizona 564, right after passing the coal loading silos from the infamous Black Mesa mine. Black Mesa is the source of coal for the power plant in Page that creates the smog that blankets the Grand Canyon.

It’s 9 miles up the road to the Monument. Beautiful country, but it comes with a couple caveats. There is a length limit because of turn around space at the end of the road. The sign near the highway says no trailers over 28 feet. Total length limit is 40 feet with any single unit limited to 28 feet.

As you get to the top of the hill, you may or may not see the small warning sign. They don’t use speed bumps.

Rather, they use concrete gutters that will rattle your teeth unless you cross them at a crawl. There are several, and not all of them are signed. Since they are formed of concrete so they’re different than the pavement IF you’re paying attention. Don’t ask me how I know…

Once you get there, if you try to get to the Canyon View Campground, you’ll find this road. It’s the 10 miles of unpaved road from Shonto that Suzy thought would be a good idea for me.

The monument (and the Navajo Nation) observe Daylight Saving time unlike the rest of Arizona. As a result, I got here after the Visitor Center closed but the sunlight and the cliffs were begging me to come take a look. The Monument is home to two major cliff dwellings. Betatakin is visible from an overlook or accessed on a ranger led, 5 mile r/t hike. Keet Seel is the largest known cliff dwelling in Arizona, and is accessed via a 17 mile overnight hike. Both in-canyon hikes require permits.

The overlook trail was about 2 miles r/t from my spot in the campground. It was going to be difficult to get lost since this trail was paved from the Visitor Center to the overlook.

The Betatakin cliff dwelling view point is across the canyon. The ranger led hike drops 700 ft into the canyon to access the dwellings. By the time I arrived, the settlement was in shadows.

There are quite a few reasonable intact rooms stage right including a few with wood rafters. The structures on stage left didn’t seem to fare as well with a few shorter walls and foundations remaining.

There is lots of bare slickrock in the area with trees showing lots of character as they struggle to survive.

and a few clumps of color that caught my eye. No idea what kind of plant it is, but I appreciated the color that it added.

I stayed at the Sunset View campground where it got down to 38 degrees thanks to the 7200 ft elevation. A beautiful place that was only about 25% full.

This post uploaded and scheduled thanks to the fast wifi with dinner at Twin Rocks Cafe in Bluff, Utah.

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