Navajo National Monument is located within the northwest portion of the Navajo Nation territory in north eastern Arizona. This monument preserves three cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan People: Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House.
The monument features a visitor center with a museum, three short self-guided mesa top trails, two small campgrounds, and a picnic area. Ranger guided tours are available to the Betatakin cliff dwellings year round and to the Keet Seel cliff dwellings in the summer.
This monument is a must visit. You can easily spend a half day there or longer if taking the ranger led tours to the cliff dwellings at Betatakin or Keet Seel. The Betatakin tour takes a half day and is 5 miles return. The Keet Seel is a 17 mile trek with some people camping overnight at the site. Access to Inscription Point is not available.
These ruins were occupied around AD 1250 and abandoned by AD 1300. Archaeologists have determined that there was a distinct decrease in precipitation between AD 1276 and 1299, a period referred to as the “Great Drought”. Also there was increased deposition of sediment onto agricultural lands in the canyons which lowered the water table, thus making the land inadequate for farming.
The monument is 9 miles along paved highway 564 north from highway 160. This junction is 21 miles west of Kayenta Arizona, and 52 miles east of Tuba City Arizona along highway 160. Highway 564 is at the junction of the Peabody Coal mining road which is recognizable by the overhead coal conveyor about 1 mile west of the junction.
The Sandal Trail to the overlook of the Betatakin site is a 1.2 mile return trail along a paved pathway. It descends 180 feet to the overlook. It is rated as easy.
Here are some pictures taken on March 28, 2018.
The Aspen trail descends to an overlook along the length of Betatakin canyon. The trail starts about 500 feet down the Sandal Trail and is 0.7 miles return with a descent of 240 feet. The trail passes along some steep edges with handrails. There are 260 steps plus several sloping paths on the route. The trail is rated easy unless you are extremely nervous about heights.
Canyon View Trail
The Canyon View trail is a relatively flat sandy trail of 0.9 miles return length to the west end of Betatakin Canyon where you can walk out onto a large slickrock area to view the canyon. This is an easy trail.