Tour Ancient Ruins at Arizona’s Navajo National Monument

Learn about Native American culture from this historic site.

Rte. 564, Kayenta, Arizona

Although the Navajos became one of the most powerful tribes in the Southwest, they are relative newcomers, migrating south from their Canadian homeland in the 1400s. Sometime later they discovered the ruins of villages built by the ancient Puebloans and settled in the area.

Navajo National Monument
Navajo National Monument. A fish-eye camera lens gives a new perspective to the Keet Seel Ruins left behind by the ancient Puebloans some seven centuries ago
A half-mile trail (open year-round) leads to an overlook with a fine view of Betatakin (“ledge house” in Navajo). Nestled in a great alcove in the face of a sheer sandstone cliff, it looks like a fairy-tale setting. You can visit the ruin itself only on guided tours. Tours given from May – Sept. include talks on the prehistoric occupants of the area, and the present-day Navajo dwellers, as well as geology, flora, and other topics. The outing requires a strenuous four-hour round-trip hike; keep in mind that the elevation here is 7,300 feet.

The ruins of Keet Seel (“broken pieces of pottery” in Navajo) are even more remote and are open only from Memorial Day – Labor Day. The trail is an arduous 17-mile round-trip hike. You can go and return in a day or camp near the ruins in the canyon. Only 20 people per day are allowed to visit the site, and permits and reservations are required.

–Park and visitors center open daily except winter holidays. Learn more history from the oldest buildings in the world.

www.nps.gov/nava

(928) 672-2700

Originally Published in Reader's Digest