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navajo-national-monument

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.

Visit www.nps.gov/nava/index.htm for more information on Navajo National Monument.
Grand Canyon, northern Arizona, Photo: John Loo, Flickr

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s greatest tourist destination. With countless outdoor activities and a fascinating history, it attracts over five million visitors every year, and offers an activity for everyone.

The Grand Canyon National Park covers 1,904 square miles, and has a rich history that includes a number of Native American tribes, pioneers and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The United States acquired the Grand Canyon region in 1848 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the region quickly started booming because of the logging, mining and ranching opportunities the land provided.

The area developed as roads and railroads were constructed to move goods through and around the canyon. Entrepreneurs built up businesses around the area, and tourists flocked to the area see Arizona’s natural wonder.

Today there are numerous ways for visitors to experience the Grand Canyon.

Suspended 4,000 feet over the Grand Canyon, the Skywalk provides an opportunity for visitors to view the Colorado River and look at the Grand Canyon while standing on a viewing deck with a glass bottom. The viewing deck stretches 70 feet over the canyon’s rim and lets visitors feel as though they are walking the sky.

The Grand Canyon features unique trails that provide hikers with access to the inner canyon. For those wanting a quick glimpse of the Grand Canyon, there are five South Rim trails or 13 North Rim trails that will take the visitor into the canyon and back out in the same day.

Avid hikers can journey into the inner canyon and stay overnight with permit permission. Approximately 40,000 people camp overnight in the Grand Canyon each year.

Guided tours are available to visitors via bus, jeep and air. More adventurous guided tours include mule, bicycle and rafting tours.

River trips provide another way to experience the canyon. There are several different river trips that allow visitors to whitewater raft through the Colorado River. Trips range from one day to 25 days, with the longer trips requiring permits.

Hermit Road, which runs along the South Rim, is the most popular scenic route for tourists. There are nine scenic viewpoints along the road, and the route is accessible to vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

The Shrine of the Ages was originally built for religious services for all faiths. Today the building is used to host informational sessions about wildlife, history and the canyon, private functions such as weddings and special events like concerts and demonstrations.

Built in 1905 and most recently renovated in 2005, El Tovar Hotel is the leading lodging choice at the Grand Canyon. The hotel is a registered National Historic Landmark and has hosted famous people such as Theodore Roosevelt and Albert Einstein.

 

Come back in July; we’ll have more “Places to See” then!