Things to Do in Arizona: Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument is very close to my heart as my wife is both Navajo and Yavapai. Her grandfather resides in Tuba City, a short 60 miles southwest of the monument, and every year we take our Labor Day trip up north, staying at Navajo National Monument. If you enjoy camping in Arizona either by tent or RV, Navajo National Monument offers one of the best outdoor experiences blending both solitude and beauty of Arizona.

Navajo National Monument has several unguided hikes along short paths that yield breath-taking views that take you back in time to when the prehistoric Puebloan Ancestors built villages within the natural sandstone canyons. These villages date back to 1250 to 1300 A.D. While walking these paths, you are immersed in a state of calmness and serenity as you contemplate and attempt to imagine what it would have been like almost 1,000 years ago.

The amazing Aspen trail is .8 miles round trip and dips down 300 feet into a perfect spot to view the ancient aspen forest. Here overwhelming cliffs surround you as you take in one of the most unique Arizona views that our great state has to offer its visitors.

The Sandal trail is a 1 mile round trip that offers a paved path to an overlook with views of the Betakin/Talastims cliff dwelling. Make sure and bring some binoculars so you can view the cliff dwellings and their unique architectural traits.

Navajo National Monument offers several strenuous hikes ranging from 3-17 miles that bestow close up views of these amazing cliff dwellings. Reservations must be made in advance and are subject to cancelation due to the weather.

Navajo National Monument is open year round. However, if visiting in the winter, be prepared for snow and ice, as the elevation is over 7,000 feet. I personally enjoy this area because it is not very well known being near more popular sites such as the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. You can always find a camping spot: my favorite being the Canyon View campground which offers breath taking sunset views of the canyons. As of Labor Day 2011, there were no fees to camp but donations are always encouraged.

Make a weekend trip up to Navajo National Monument and experience one of  Arizona’s TOP 5 Cultural Attractions as voted by the readers of Experience AZ.

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